The Call for More Homes Suitable for Later Life

Chris Walker, former Treasury economist, has called for 30,000 more homes to be built each year as people in Britain are living for longer. In light of new research suggesting that the NHS is “overwhelmed” by nearly a million extra older people suffering injuries after falling, the call aims to provide housing more suitable for those with physical needs.

The government has forecast that there will be over five million by 2032 aged over 80, up from around 3.2 million today. With Walker’s report – Healthier and Happier – stating that the number of people aged 80 or over who will suffer a fall is expected to rise from 1.6 million to 2.5 million by 2032, there is no better time to start preparing our homes for life in our later years. 

There are standards which developers can work to to ensure that a home is accessible, such as the Lifetime Homes scheme.  The Lifetime Homes scheme emerged from the work developed in the late 1980s by the Helen Hamlyn Foundation Foundation and the Habinteg Housing Association, with the interest of providing housing needs for the disabled and the elderly. 

A Lifetime Home follows 16 design criteria that provide the absolute model for building accessible and adaptable homes.  From consideration of approach gradients, level entrance thresholds, through to reinforcement of ceilings and walls to allow tracking hoist routes and handrails, Lifetime Homes are ideal for those with additional physical and sensory needs – as well as supporting an ageing population and their carers.  We can support with these modifications by applying the principles of the Lifetime Homes scheme to new developments, as well as by the retro-fitting of current homes.  Contact us for more information.

Some of the major findings within the report are that:

  • Building 30,000 more retirement houses every year for the next 10 years, therefore meeting the estimated demand, would generate savings across social services and the NHS of £2.1 billion annually.
  • People living in housing designed for later life have a reduced risk of health challenges, which contributes to the NHS and social care services saving around £3,500 a year.

Incorporating Lifetime Homes standards into new-build housing schemes can reduce the need for complex future adaptations as well as giving greater choice to people who cannot easily achieve independent living due to the current lack of suitable existing housing. Lifetime Homes rarely require greater space standards and should not impact on the overall density of a development.  Also, because of their thoughtful design, they often feel more spacious, a feature which is important in high density developments and could increase house value.

It is crucial to acknowledge that the majority of older people will live in existing housing. The government needs to continue to invest in supporting the adaptation of homes to meet the needs of people as their circumstances change, keep older people safe and independent in their homes and prevent avoidable admissions to hospital and care homes.

 – David Renard, housing spokesperson for the Local Government Association (LGA)

At ethical partnership we are passionate about meeting the needs of our entire population through the Lifetime Homes scheme and hope that councils and housing associations consider them for new social housing. We can review designs, train builders, and undertake site audits. Contact us today for more information and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn to keep up-to-date with developments in the planning industry.

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