A new way forward for tackling the fast-growing shortage of housing for older people is being proposed in a guide published this week by The Housing Forum.
Titled Older and Wiser, the guide looks to address society’s failure to provide suitable homes for the ageing population by setting out a range of practical suggestions with 16 case studies demonstrating diverse solutions and inspired thinking.
Based on the experience and knowledge of Housing Forum members, Older and Wiser shows how housing associations, local councils and private developers who may be looking to develop specialist housing for the first time, can deliver greater numbers and a wider range of accommodation to meet the needs of older people. Providing better and more suitable housing provision will enable people to live more independently for longer.
The guide is published at a critical stage in the demographic cycle, with the number of people aged 85 and over forecast to double to 3.2 million by 2041.
Yet there are just 730,000 retirement housing units across the UK, according to the Elderly Accommodation Counsel (EAC). More than half these homes, 52%, were built or last renovated over 30 years ago.
To address the shortages and the varied requirements of this diverse demographic, the authors of Older and Wiser are calling for a greater focus on the problem by government, housing providers and local authorities.
Tom Titherington, Executive Director – Development and Commercial, Sovereign and Chair of the Housing Forum Working Group which produced the report commented: “Housing for older people in our society is seriously under-catered-for and half of what there is was last renovated more than 30 years ago. By any measure we’re failing miserably to deliver.”
“A key objective for our Working Group therefore was to embed the need for housing for older people into the thoughts and plans for all providers of housing development and management.
“And we want to see the issue strongly reflected in everything from planning policy to everyday discussions with planners on how to create strong, sustainable places to live.”
Mike Turner, Executive Director, Ian Williams, and Deputy Chair of the Working Group, said: “In this guide we examine the challenges, look at solutions, and going one step further, have devised a practical model that every housing provider can use today. We hope in doing so we encourage housing providers to take their first steps into the market.”
Mike added: “The principles it espouses, in particular the need to build communities, design for wellbeing, and provide access to outside space, have in the wake of the pandemic proved to be more important than ever.”
The guide will be available to download from www.HousingForum.org.uk from Friday 15th January