A new report published today by the Centre for Ageing Better warns that people thinking of moving or making adaptations to their home can be hindered by complex or poorly coordinated local information and advice about their housing options.

The report – ‘Home truths – Housing options and advice for people in later life: Learning from communities in Leeds’ – which is based on interviews with local people and housing professionals in Leeds, highlights good practice in the city and sets out examples that local providers of information and advice services should adopt.

This includes providing an up-to-date directory of services available in an area, running awareness campaigns for different age groups, and creating a ‘mini housing assessment’ so health and finance professionals include housing in their work with local people and make best use of every contact with people approaching later life to help them plan for the future.

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Failure to organise and signpost to information is putting people off planning ahead for a move into accommodation that is more suitable as they get older, or making alterations to their homes that will help them to live independently in later life, the report says.

The report also calls on national Government to prioritise and invest in high-quality housebuilding to provide diverse and affordable housing options suitable for people of all ages and abilities.

The current lack of accessible and affordable housing for people as they age is leading many to stay in unsuitable homes until a point of crisis, the Centre for Ageing Better warns. The Government should also provide better support and renewed investment to enable people to repair, improve and adapt their current homes.

National Government should reinstate funding to deliver an expanded ‘national advice service’ which considers the services available at a local level. By doing so, it would provide a coordinated approach to delivering housing information and advice that would help people across the country, notes the charity.

Joanne Volpe, the Centre for Ageing Better’s partnership manager in Leeds, said: “Our work in Leeds shows many people struggle to think about the future, when we know that planning ahead can really help to navigate all the options available and mean we can live somewhere we want to for longer. Help should be local, accessible and take a collaborative approach to enable trust to be built.”

Councillor Rebecca Charlwood is Chair of Leeds Health and Wellbeing Board, and represents the council at Leeds Older People Forum. She commented: “In Leeds we are committed to becoming the best possible city to grow old in and housing is a vital part of this vision. This research highlights the importance of a much more joined up approach in local areas so people seeking advice are both equipped with all the options but not overwhelmed by choice.

“Of course, all the advice and support in the world won’t matter if there aren’t any suitable homes for people to move into or if they can’t get the upgrades and repairs they need. In Leeds, despite austerity and a lack of devolved powers, we are doing our best to get on and deliver new homes everyone can access, as well as providing adaptations to enable people to stay in their homes. The next five years will also see us deliver hundreds more well-designed, accessible extra care housing properties, which enable people to retain their independence.”

Ageing Better entered a five-year partnership with Leeds City Council and Leeds Older People’s Forum in October 2017, with the intention of piloting innovative approaches to ageing, generating new evidence that can spread good practice nationally, and enable other to adopt and implement evidence of what works.

In June 2018, Ageing Better, in conjunction with the Me and My Home group in Leeds, commissioned Aligned Consultancy to examine the housing information and advice that people in later life across Leeds want, as well as how and where they are accessing this support.

Aligned Consultancy met with national providers of information and advice, interviewed local providers in Leeds and conducted focus groups and one-to-one interviews with 58 people aged 50 to 91 to get a deeper understanding of what is important when considering housing options and what information and advice requirements people have.

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