Housing solutions ‘more important than ever’ to future health agenda

New government Green Paper also puts loneliness on a par with smoking or obesity as a health threat.

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Over the next decade, home adaptations, assistive technology, and supported housing will be “more important than ever” to the UK’s future health agenda, a new government Green Paper says.

Advancing our health: prevention in the 2020s pitches that future as a place where people stay independent for longer and one in which those with complex needs – including serious mental illness, learning disabilities and autism – can lead “good quality lives” within their communities.

In the years ahead, the government has an opportunity to shape this emerging market and test new ideas and innovations, the paper says.

Building on ideas either in practice or emerging out of the potential in a shared health/housing agenda, the paper pitches the 2020s as a  decade of “proactive, predictive, and personalised” prevention.

This means a health agenda founded on:

  • Targeted support
  • Tailored lifestyle advice
  • Personalised care
  • Greater protection against future threats

“In the 2020s, people will not be passive recipients of care – they will be co-creators of their own health,” the paper says.

“The challenge is to equip them with the skills, knowledge and confidence they need to help themselves.”

Referencing disability – or frailty, including those living with dementia – the paper says home repairs and adaptations are crucial with eight in 10 homes occupied in 2050 having already been built.

Evidence shows that only 7% of homes have all the access features required for people with limited mobility, 72% have the potential to reach ‘visitable standards’ for somebody living with a physical disability.

So, over the In the 2020s, the paper says, home adaptations, assistive technology, and supported housing will be more important than ever, helping people to stay independent for longer and supporting those with complex needs – including serious mental illness, learning disabilities and autism – to lead good quality lives in communities.

That presents the government with an opportunity to shape this emerging market and test new ideas and innovations.

And the paper puts loneliness on a par with smoking or obesity, linked to increased risk of coronary heart disease and stroke, depression, cognitive decline, and Alzheimer’s.

Here, the paper runs parallel to  A Connected Society: a strategy for tackling loneliness, published in October last year, to say supporting people to avoid or move out of loneliness before it becomes entrenched can help prevent the adverse health conditions associated with frequent loneliness.

The loneliness strategy is seen as an important first step, with the government committed to long-lasting action to tackle the problem of loneliness.

The Department of Health and Social Care intends to publish annual reports on the loneliness agenda – with the first planned for later this year.

Commitments outlined in this Green Paper are said to signal a new approach for the health and care system working with local and national government to put prevention at the centre of decision making.

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