Elderly 'need thousands more homes'

Further pressure will be placed on NHS unless more homes designed for later life are built

Updated: 
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Thousands more homes which can meet the needs of older people will be needed in the coming years to prevent bed-blocking bottlenecks in the NHS growing worse, the National Housing Federation has warned.

The Federation said that with three million more adults aged over 65 expected in England by 2030, more than 100,000 extra homes for older people are estimated to be needed in the housing association sector alone in the next 15 years.

It fears that further pressure will be placed on NHS resources unless more homes designed for later life with on-site care services available are built.

Research commissioned by the Federation has found that more than half (52%) of nearly 1,500 home owners aged over 55 said they would have to move or make adaptations to their current home if they developed care needs or mobility problems, meaning they could face being stuck in hospital until housing arrangements could be made.

Lack of appropriate properties

The research also found that, of home owners who would like to move but have not done so yet, almost one in five (19%) said it was because there were no appropriate properties available to them in the area they wish to stay in.

David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, said: "Unless we start building the right homes for our future older population now, the impact down the line on the NHS could be catastrophic.

"Housing associations have already begun developing well-designed homes for over-55s that are self-contained houses and apartments with built in care services available when needed, but they need the support from government to do much more.

"As we get older we all deserve to have well-designed homes that promote good health. To solve the care crisis for good and relieve pressure in the NHS we have to get housing right first."

The Federation is calling for the next government to publish a long-term plan within a year of taking office that sets out how they will "end the housing crisis within a generation".

It said the plan needs to include recognition of the role each part of the housing sector needs to make towards delivering the range of housing and care options needed for our ageing population.

Keep people out of hospital

Kathleen Kelly, assistant director of policy and research at the National Housing Federation, said: "Ultimately we want to keep people out of hospital or ensure their hospital stay is as short as possible.

"If we're to achieve this we need enough of the right 'care ready' homes to meet the needs of our ageing population and investment in community schemes that keep vulnerable and older people fit and well."

A government spokesman said: "This government is getting Britain building to deliver the homes communities want and that meet a variety of different needs.

"House building is now at its highest annual level since 2007, including nearly 217,000 affordable homes delivered since 2010. Planning policy already requires local plans to take the housing needs of older and disabled people into account, and we're changing the rules so that, where there is a local need, councils can set much clearer standards for accessible and wheelchair-adaptable new homes.

"The government has made more than £3 billion to bring social homes up to standard which councils can use to meet the needs of local people, including a disabled facilities grants for adaptations. Our £5.3 billion Better Care Fund and the £315 million Specialised Housing Fund will also help to keep older independent people out of hospital for longer."

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