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Foundations paper: Housing Options, Downsizing, Move on Services – From Staying Put to Moving On: A new role for Home Improvement Agencies imageFoundations has launched a new paper aimed at Home Improvement Agencies (HIAs) to outline some of the facts surrounding suitable housing for elderly people and to encourage HIAs and local housing and care services to consider the challenges and opportunities provided by an ageing population largely satisfied with their own home and community.

As a large proportion of the housing wealth in the UK is owned by the over-55s, notes Foundations, downsizing has become a suitable option for people.

The Housing for Older People Inquiry led by the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee, considered the benefits and drawbacks of downsizing.

The Inquiry found that whilst downsizing may not particularly help the current housing shortage, a range of measures should be introduced to help older people overcome the barriers to moving home.

Foundations’ paper – ‘Housing Options, Downsizing, Move on Services – From Staying Put to Moving On: A new role for Home Improvement Agencies’ – explores how HIAs can help older people find more suitable housing as they age.

The facts

Over-65s will account for nearly a quarter of the UK’s population by 2019 and home ownership amongst this age group currently exceeds three-quarters.

96 percent of older people live in mainstream housing, as opposed to specialist housing or residential care. Approximately 50,000 older people move house every year and 85 percent of older people who move do so to existing mainstream housing.

The main reasons for elderly people deciding to move house is to improve their quality of life immediately after retirement or to be closer to support networks or to move into care. A lot of the decisions to move are based on choice to positively improve that person’s life.

However, the research revealed that there is a correlation between people who move and their financial resources; those in possession of higher or lower wealth scales are more likely to move than those in the middle.

The reasons for moving

There are wide range of reasons older people may want to move house, including both positive and negative factors. The decision for people to move is determined by what they consider to be the most important factors involved in moving house.

Positive reasons to move house include: reducing repair and maintenance costs, health benefits, an opportunity to release some existing housing wealth for other purposes, and better social opportunities.

On the other end of the spectrum, these largely positive factors may be offset by countervailing factors such as: emotional attachments, the complexity and disruption of mobbing house, costs in terms of availability and processing prices, and a lack of suitable accommodation in the right place.

Opportunities for HIAs and local independent living services

Foundations stresses that HIAs and services providing home adaptations can offer greater choice and control to people whose home is no longer suitable for them.

Rather than simply offering the necessary adaptations and repairs for people to remain in their current home, HIAs can present the opportunity to facilitate additional choice for individuals.

Foundations says that local housing and public healthcare services should introduce discussions about moving on into assessments, consultations and general advice sessions as early as possible for people. It notes that these discussions should be framed positively and focus on desirable housing options to avoid people feeling as though moving house is a solely negative option.

In addition, the paper says: “HIAs and care services should help people navigate through the difficulties and stress of moving house in instances where they have been forced to move due to inability to cope with their existing property.”

Suggestions

At the end of the paper, Foundations suggests a range of ways for HIAs and community housing services to help facilitate older people to move home and healthily age in their own home.

Foundations proposes that HIAs should engage with the Public Health and Health and Wellbeing Board to raise awareness and outline some solutions for healthy ageing at a home of one’s choosing.

It further suggests that HIAs should have wider strategic conversations between local stakeholders about how the DFG programme can contribute to ensuring that the home of older and disabled people becomes the natural setting for health and wellbeing.

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