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Centre for Ageing Better explores how home adaptations improve later life

News | Ageing Better | 14 April 2016

Today the Centre for Ageing Better is inviting feedback on a draft plan for a research review on how adaptations to people’s homes can help improve later life.

Ageing Better is inviting anyone with an interest in the topic to give feedback, so the scope of the research review can be refined before commissioning. The findings will be published next year.

The homes that people live in significantly impact on their wellbeing and ability to live their lives the way they want to. Research shows that 80 per cent of homeowners aged 65 and over wish to stay where they are, and home adaptations – ranging from hand rails to special baths or stairlifts – have benefits for the individual as well as for society in terms of reducing health and care costs.[1]

Helping people live independently for longer by adapting homes can delay a move into residential care by four years.[2] In addition, relatively low cost home modifications have been shown to reduce falls that require medical treatment by 26 per cent, bringing potential savings of £500 million each year to the NHS and social care services.[3]

Workshops with people with lived experience and a recent expert roundtable  held by the Centre for Ageing Better have shown strong support for commissioning a new review into the impact home adaptations can have. The last systematic assessment of the research evidence on home adaptations was published in 2007, and there are opportunities to update and promote the evidence for what works.[4]

Alongside the systematic review, the Centre for Ageing Better will also engage with a wide range of professionals and practitioners involved in providing and funding home adaptations as well as people who have adapted their homes, to add practical and personal insights to the understanding of what works.

The findings from the Centre for Ageing Better’s work in this area will be used to help a wide range of people, from those considering their own or their family members’ needs to policymakers and commissioners responsible for the Disabled Facilities Grant Budget.

The Centre for Ageing Better received expert input on the draft scope from Care & Repair England, a charity dedicated to improving the housing and living conditions of older and disabled people.

Catherine Foot, Director of Evidence at Centre for Ageing Better, said:

“A supportive home environment is crucial to achieving a healthy and independent later life. Evidence drives everything we do, so we are taking a comprehensive approach to gathering evidence. We look forward to hearing from people in response to this draft review scope. We will then issue an Invitation to Tender for the systematic review in the coming weeks.

“The results of the review will help more people to make the changes needed to live in a home that supports later life. We look forward to sharing the findings and where we find clear evidence of approaches that work, we will work with others to implement them.”

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[1] Lloyd, J. (2015) Open Plan: Building a strategic policy towards older owners London: Strategic Society Centre

[2] Foundations (2015) Linking Disabled Facilities Grants to Social Care Data

[3] Keall, M. D., Pierse, N., Howden-Chapman, P., Cunningham, C., Cunningham, M., Guria, J., & Baker, M. G. (2015).Home modifications to reduce injuries from falls in the Home Injury Prevention Intervention (HIPI) study: a cluster-randomised controlled trial. The Lancet, 385(9964), 231-238

[4] Heywood, Frances, and Lynn Turner. “Better outcomes, lower costs.” Implications for health and social care budgets of investment in housing adaptations, improvements and equipment: review of the evidence. London: Office for Disability Issues/Department of Work and Pensions (2007)