Leeds Older People’s Forum – Housing for Older People in Leeds
Leeds Older People’s Forum and Care & Repair Leeds are working together to produce the key foundations of a policy for Housing and Older People in Leeds. At its heart is the fundamental importance of involving older people and organisations that represent them and work with them in the development and future monitoring of the policy.
This is an introductory report summarising the key factors that need to be included in a housing policy for older people in Leeds. It is based on surveys and consultations that have taken place in Leeds plus the findings of similar work carried out in other areas of England. The report is the start of a process and further work is going to be carried out during 2014 involving discussions and consultations with a wide variety of key stakeholders.
This report will be presented to the appropriate lead Councillors and Chief Officers of Leeds City Council and to the Leeds Ageing Well Board. It includes a proposal that a structure be established to develop a comprehensive policy involving all relevant public sector (Health, Housing and Adult Social Care) voluntary sector, private sector and social housing sectors, with older people having a key role.
Housing and Older People
Approximately 90% of older people live in general housing; 5% live in specialist housing provision and a further 5% in residential or nursing care. Nearly 75% of older people are homeowners. These factors are frequently ignored in discussions on housing for older people which tend to deal only with social housing.
Housing conditions have a direct link to health and wellbeing. Poor or unsuitable housing increases the risks of hospital admissions and readmissions and G.P. visits, and places additional pressures on social care funding for residential care.
A study carried out by Care & Repair England identified two key factors in defining what makes a “good home in later life”:
- The location of the home: close to family, friends, public transport, health facilities, shops, social links, libraries.
- The design: Warm, affordable heating, safe, secure, adapted with adequate space.
- It also identified the most common housing problems as:
- Cold and damp home.
- Carrying out repairs and maintenance.
- Inadequate adaptations.
These issues were all identified in a survey of older people carried out by Care & Repair Leeds and Leeds Older people’s Forum in 2011. In addition this survey identified a high demand for ground floor accommodation; the need for practical home services including handyperson service; the provision of advice and support about housing options and the importance of consulting older people about their views on housing need.
Key Elements of a Housing Policy for Older People in Leeds
- Most older people wish to remain living in their existing homes within their existing communities. They value the support from family and friends, access to good transport and proximity to local shops and amenities.
- The provision of practical services including handyperson, falls prevention, home security improvements, minor adaptations, essential repairs, improvements in insulation and heating systems are all essential in order to promote independent living and improve the health and wellbeing of the residents. Access to rapid home adaptations and repairs is essential.
- Being in control of where and how you live is critical to independence and well-being. Access to housing options advice is essential for older people to be able to make informed decisions about their current and future housing needs.
- Approximately 66% of people with dementia live in their own homes and most say that they would prefer to remain there for as long as possible. Packages of flexible services are needed to achieve this including those listed above plus reminiscence libraries, retro-decorating schemes, telecare interventions and home support services.
- Specialist housing, including sheltered and extra care, should be planned based on clear assessments of need and designed to allow people to remain living in them for as long as possible, with links to local services and amenities. It is essential that the needs of older people with dementia and those who are deaf and blind are taken into account in formulating specialist housing policies. Further discussions are needed in relation to the City Council’s review of sheltered housing that is taking place.
- A formal structure should be established to involve older people and organisations that represent them in the development and future monitoring of housing policy. This structure should include Leeds Older People’s Forum, Age-UK Leeds, and Care & Repair Leeds.
- Joint planning and commissioning between the City Council (including Public Health and Adult Social Care), NHS Trusts, Clinical Commissioning Groups, and all relevant social housing providers is essential to achieve these results. Included in this is the need to promote multidisciplinary cooperation across health, social care and housing.
- Any new housing developments in Leeds should include the provision of bungalows and/or ground floor flats, with good links to local transport and social amenities.
- In order to achieve independent living for the longer term, all new homes should be built to Lifetime Homes Standards.