A new report published today (25th July) 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 Centre for Ageing Better report, 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.
“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 added.
The report also outlines a call 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.
This coincides with recent warning from the Centre for Ageing Better that 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 report also urges the government to provide better support and renewed investment to enable people to repair, improve, and adapt their current homes, as well as reinstating funding to deliver an expanded ‘national advice service’ to consider the services available at local level.
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, chair of Leeds Health and Wellbeing Board and represents the council at the Leeds Older People Forum, added: “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.”