Homes that help: A personal and professional perspective on home adaptations
This report summarises the findings of a primary research project exploring the lived experiences of individuals who use home adaptations, and practitioners who work alongside them.
The homes that people live in significantly impact on their wellbeing and their ability to live their lives the way they want to. Older people spend more time in their homes and immediate neighbourhood than any other age group. Most people over 65 live in what is called ‘mainstream’ or ‘general needs’ housing (as opposed to specialist housing or residential care), and most own their homes.
While many people will maintain good health and fitness for much of their later life, the majority of us will, at some point, experience some difficulties carrying out day-to-day activities. More than a quarter of men aged over 65 and nearly a third of women struggle with at least one of the ‘Activities of Daily Living’, such as washing, dressing and eating – approximately 3.3 million people (NHS, 2016).
This issue will likely become more prominent over the coming years, as the population ages and the number of people with long-term health conditions and mobility problems increases. Projections suggest that the number of people over 85 in the UK will more than double in the next 15 years.
Home adaptations improve the accessibility and usability of a person’s home environment. In 2017, Ageing Better demonstrated this through a review of the published literature, providing up-to-date analysis of the evidence on the importance and effectiveness of home adaptations. In summary, we found that both minor and major home adaptations can improve a range of outcomes for people in later life, including improved performance of everyday activities, improved mental health and prevention of falls and injuries, especially when done in combination with any necessary repairs, delivered in a timely manner and in line with people’s personal goals.