Living in a suitable home and neighbourhood
We want more people to live in homes and neighbourhoods that support a good later life.
Living in suitable housing, a neighbourhood designed to be age-friendly and a supportive community can improve health and wellbeing, help people to develop and maintain social connections, and help people feel in control.
We know that most people want to stay in their own home but few are well adapted for older people. We are working to ensure current and new housing is designed and adapted for our ageing population.
Why work on it?
People in later life spend more time in their homes and immediate neighbourhood than any other age group. Good housing and age-friendly environments help people to stay warm, safe and healthy, and enable them to do the things that are important to them. But compared to the rest of the population, people in later life are more likely to live in homes that are in a state of disrepair and pose a threat to health (Handler 2014).
People in later life who live in environments that do not suit them can find it harder to get out, and so are more likely to be physically inactive, isolated and depressed. According to the Government Office for Science’s Foresight report, Future of ageing: adapting homes and neighbourhoods, most people in later life live in mainstream housing, but 95% of homes do not have the key features required for independent living.
Participants in our Later life in 2015 research told us how much they value the social networks they have built up from living in their communities for many years.
- We want to build on this evidence review to identify examples of local areas that are delivering home repairs and adaptations in a timely manner, and in line with people’s personal goals. To do this we have launched a ‘call for practice’ in partnership with Care & Repair England to identify high quality and innovative practice in the provision of home adaptations for older people. Our aim is to gather and share practical evidence and examples of how local areas can organise services most effectively to deliver home adaptations to all who would benefit from them.
- Our latest report The role of home adaptations in improving later life (by Ageing Better, UWE, BRE) finds that making small changes to older people’s homes, such as installing handrails, ramps and level-access showers could play a significant role in relieving pressure on the NHS and social care and reduce costs by millions of pounds each year.
- We are working with Northumbria University to gather evidence from front-line workers such as occupational therapists to understand what works for them and their clients, and the challenges they face. We are also gathering views from people who use home adaptations to understand what changes and improvement they would like to see. We will use this insight and evidence to influence local health and care commissioners.
- The products that make it easier to stay in your own home could be better designed, and better marketed. We also plan to engage with consumers, retailers and designers to understand how the current situation can be improved.
- We are also working alongside those building new houses (including with NHS Healthy New Towns), to support them in applying the evidence of what works, and in gathering evidence about how new developments can best meet people’s priorities.
- Whilst improving mainstream housing stock is our current focus, we are also interested in wider engagement and influencing to support housing developers and planners to design new homes in a way that will ensure they are adaptable and accessible to meet people’s changing needs across the life course.
Have a look at our ‘Homes and Neighbourhoods’ infographics.
Please get in contact if you are able to contribute information or ideas because:
- you are doing relevant research
- you have personal experience that could help inform the design of interventions and solutions
- you are delivering a service or intervention designed to support people to feel in control through well-designed homes, neighbourhoods and services
- you have ideas about how the Centre for Ageing Better can make most differenceyou share our ambitions and would like to explore how you could contribute or work with us