A nine-month long inquiry into housing for older people has declared that there needs to be more done to offer accessible homes for an increasingly ageing population in rural areas.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Housing and Care for Older People published a report recommending that local authorities take action to provide more suitable houses after finding elderly people’s housing is neglected in some areas.
Among the recommendations made in the report, the APPG suggests making housing more age-friendly and adapting the guidelines for designing new homes for older people.
It is hoped that more appropriate rural housing could improve the level of independence older people enjoy and save the NHS money.
The inquiry also received evidence that building hubs for older people in villages can help older people to retain their support networks of family and friends.
It wants wider community-led support solutions that could help people remain in their own village and stay connected in isolated rural communities.
Responding to the report Cllr Izzi Seccombe, Chair of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “This report rightly acknowledges the urgent need to supply more housing for older people and the necessary infrastructure, especially in rural areas.
“With half of rural households expected to be headed by an over 65 in just two decades, it has never been more essential that we have a national focus on providing homes that meet the needs of our parents, grandparents and all the older people in our communities, which is something the LGA has consistently called for.
“Councils want to see a desperately-needed residential revolution in older people’s housing. However, they need to have the tools to build these appropriate homes, including the freedom to borrow to build new homes across the country, fully resourced planning teams so approvals can be given to appropriate homes as quickly as possible, and allowed to retain 100% of receipts from Right to Buy sales so that homes sold can be replaced.
“There is a clear link between housing, health and social care which means ensuring we have enough, appropriate housing for older people must be a serious consideration in the forthcoming social care green paper. It’s essential that housing for older people enables them to live independently at home for longer, by including adaptations which enable them to get around easily and support them at home.
“If councils are given the right tools, we could trigger that residential revolution and deliver the homes our older residents need, but with an ageing population, the clock is ticking. As a country, we owe it to our older people to tackle this problem urgently – the time to act is now.”