Retirement Housing Group - Government proposals on Lifetime Homes need to focus on more than bricks and mortar

25 February, 2008

But professionals from HBF’s Retirement Housing Group (RHG) say that this exclusive focus on a “bricks and mortar” solution is misconceived.

The provision of support and companionship is a critical element in the quality of life of many older people. On 15 February Age Concern reported that 45% of men and 34% of women over 80 and 62% of recently bereaved older people were lonely. The Economic and Social Research Council found that “reduced social contact, being alone, isolation and feelings of loneliness are consistently associated with reduced quality in older people’s lives”.

Delivering this to older people who want to “stay put” in their own homes will need a range of solutions. It is not encouraging that on 29 January the CSCI3 found that the number of older people in receipt of home care, meals and day care services fell significantly between 2003 and 2006 and that councils were “rationing” services by raising eligibility thresholds.

In new housing the benefits of offering a wide range of specialist, supported housing to older people is far greater than concentrating on a “one size fits all” construction “solution”, because it offers those who find their existing home too isolated and expensive to maintain an attractive alternative whilst freeing up family-sized homes for families.

Peter Askew, Chairman of the Retirement Housing Group, whose members are drawn from the spectrum of those providing and advising on housing for older people, is calling on the Government to do much more to positively encourage the development of a wide range of housing solutions to meet the diverse needs of the growing number of older people.

- Ends -

Notes for Editors

1. The Retirement Housing Group comprises retirement housing developers and housing managers, both RSL and private sector. Its ex officio members include representatives of the charity, the Elderly Accommodation Counsel, and the Association of Retirement Housing Managers. The Advice and Mediation Service (AIMS) of Age Concern is also represented. The Group’s members are therefore involved in the building, management and provision of advice on housing for those of retirement age and over. The group is a subsidiary of the Home Builders Federation:

2. Out of Sight, Out of Mind – Age Concern Report, 15 February. “Over a million older people – including one in five people over 80 – are shut out from society and ignored by government policy, according to a new report by Age Concern. The charity is warning that severe exclusion among older people is a significant and pressing problem that will not disappear without urgent government action”.

3. Loneliness, Social Isolation and Living Alone in Later Life, Economic and Social Research Council

4. Commission for Social Car Inspection - Report on Social Care in England – 29 January

“People not receiving support from councils are struggling with a poor quality of life -CSCIs third annual report to Parliament on the state of social care. It gives a comprehensive overview of the social care sector in England”.

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