Agencies Call For Increase In Appropriate Housing For Older People

A multi-agency partnership is calling for an increase in appropriate housing to improve the health and wellbeing of older people in the South West of England.

The South West Regional Public Health Group, the Care Services Improvement Partnership and the National Housing Federation have today launched From Healthier Homes to Healthier Lives, a new publication which highlights the role of housing in improving the health and wellbeing of older people throughout the region. The bulletin will be distributed to local authority housing and social services teams, health care trusts and other relevant commissioning agencies.

The proportion of older people in the South West is higher than in any other region in England, with people over 50 making up nearly 40% of the population. Older people spend an estimated 70-90% of their time in their homes, and the quality of their accommodation can significantly impact upon their health and wellbeing.

As well as outlining the key challenges for the housing sector, From Healthier Homes to Healthier Lives provides good practice case studies, such as the sheltered housing scheme at Hanover Housing Association.

The scheme includes a remodelled flat, equipped with Smart Technology, for older people requiring intermediate care after hospitalisation. The flat enables residents to regain skills in an appropriate environment before returning to their own homes at a later date.

Stuart Ropke, South West Regional Manager at the National Housing Federation said: “In 2001, 4.5% of all homes in the region were classed as ‘unfit’ – a figure which is higher than the English average. Housing associations already play a crucial role in the provision of appropriate housing and support for elderly people throughout the South West. But with so many older people residing in the region, this publication highlights the need for agencies to harness and improve upon successes achieved to date. The Housing Association sector is keen to work with key partners in ensuring that everyone, regardless of age, is able to access appropriate accommodation in a neighbourhood in which they want to live.”

Paul Watson, Regional Director at Hanover Housing Association said: “This publication will help convince commissioners and providers in the South West Region that housing, health and social care for many older people is a three-legged stool – all three services need to be coordinated together to provide healthier homes and lives. With the highest percentage of older people of any Government Region, housing associations in the South West have a vital role to play in fostering further innovation in health, housing and social care partnerships.

Co-author Rosanne Sodzi, Public Health Project Manager at the South West Regional Public Health Group said: “”Older people spend more time at home and the quality of that environment has a major impact on their health and well-being. We want every older person to enjoy an active and independent life for as long as possible.”