Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Build more homes for older people to ease pressure on NHS, say MPs

A national strategy for older people’s housing is needed to bring together and improve policy making in this area, the Communities and Local Government (CLG) Committee has said.

In a new report published today, the CLG called on Government to develop a new “national strategy” for older people that encourages the building of more and all types of housing for older people, which they claim would “help reduce the need for home or residential care”, and also relieve pressures on the NHS and social care system.

The influential, cross-party group of MPs says the forthcoming social care green paper “must consider the range of housing for older people, from mainstream and accessible homes to supported and extra care housing, as well as access to adaptations and repairs”.

The Committee’s recommendations include (as quoted):

  • Additional funding for Home Improvement Agencies operating services including a handyperson service for older people.
  • A range of measures to help older people overcome the barriers to moving home including an accreditation for companies which provide tailored services for older people moving home and better customer service and guidance from lenders when applying for a mortgage.
  • Ensuring that national and local planning policy encourages the building of more of all types of housing for older people – extra care, retirement, sheltered and accessible housing across the social and private sectors, with older people involved in the design process.
  • Building all new homes to accessible and adaptable standards so that they are ‘age proofed’ and can meet the current and future needs of older people.

Clive Betts MP, Chair of the Communities and Local Government Committee, said: “With an ageing population, it’s vital that the link between housing and health and social care is recognised.

“A new national strategy for older people, taking on board the recommendations of our report, should be linked to the Government’s forthcoming social care green paper.

“There is a huge variety of housing options for those in later life, so it’s important that older people are given help to make the right decisions about their future.

“A properly funded telephone advice service, bringing together information on everything from repairs and heating to moving and care options, would help people to make the right choices and live comfortably whether in their present homes or by moving to different accommodation.

“The right kind of housing can help people stay healthy and support them to live independently. This can help reduce the need for home or residential care, bringing real benefits to the individual and also relieving pressure on the health service.

“The green paper must consider the range of housing for older people, from mainstream and accessible homes to supported and extra care housing, as well as access to adaptations and repairs.”

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