The Housing Forum has established a specialist Older People’s Housing Working Group in a bid to tackle what has been coined a “Silver Tsunami” as a growing proportion of the population live into their 80’s. How to make this a happy and productive time of life can create real challenges for individuals and for health and for housing professionals.
Tom Titherington Chair of the working group and Executive Director, Development and Commercial at Sovereign Housing says:
“Housing provision in the UK is not, in the main, focussed on the demand and need of an ageing population. A one size fits all provision of something thought of as “retirement living” is not appropriate for everyone though specialist housing of the right sort in the right place is popular. However, there is a limited supply of this form of housing and much is either social housing or premium product at the upper end of the sales market. There is a real danger of a new “trapped middle” of owner occupiers without sufficient resources to manage their support and care and a growing number of “general needs” tenants who are moving into their 80’s.
“ Policy makers’ response at a national and local level has been reactive, dominated by the struggle to support acute care on the one hand and to chase housing production targets on the other. Providing housing appropriate for an ageing population needs to be a core part of any concept of “good growth” and as a group, we look forward to providing the much-needed debate about how to provide a range of options. A key part of which will focus on the nature of accommodation, both new homes and adaptations for older homes and the importance of related services that enable more people to stay in their homes for longer. But we will also look at what is the demand for new homes in the older age-group and how creating new communities with a mix of ages, flexible homes and relatively low cost community support help obviate issues such as dementia and add to the sense of place and the quality of life within the neighbourhood.”
“The cross-sector group – comprising of senior leaders from landlords, local authorities, contractors, developers, architects, consultants, manufacturers and suppliers – will be producing a report in the Autumn which will bring together this thinking and which we hope will become a key reference for policy makers and practitioners to point the way for best in class housing provision.”
Mike Turner, Deputy Chair and Executive Director of specialist property services’ company Ian Williams adds: “As an organisation, we’ve been working in the retirement living market for many years and have lots of experience in both the public and private housing sectors. The challenges are neither new, nor a surprise, but we need to act now to avoid crisis point.
“As a collective of housing professionals, we need to define the demography demand and set out what good practice to tackling the housing shortage should look like. We’ll be tackling the questions of: does retirement housing need to be re-defined to better reflect the age span of requirement; how do we engage to get the correct approach when communicating about the needs of older people; what should the balance be between building new homes and refurbishing existing properties so they’re fit for purpose; how do we maintain this fit for purpose status; how should funding in both the social and private sectors work; how can technology help in the provision of senior loving housing to open up a new range of attractive property and lifestyle choices; what are barriers to provision. These are just some of the issues we hope to address, and while there are currently more questions than answers, with intelligent debate and a desire to get under the skin of the statistics, we hope to be able to provide some realistic solutions.”
Shelagh Grant, Chief Executive of The Housing Forum concludes: “The Housing Forum is uniquely placed to investigate and assess solution in the retirement living market. Our objective has always been to provide a timely examination of the issues that will encourage both the supply of new housing, and the recognition of quality homes. The Housing Forum is a cross-sector, industry-wide organisation that represents the entire housing supply chain as the voice of the industry – and together we’re a voice that isn’t afraid of one of the most important issues in housing, retirement living.”
For more information on the work Ian Williams delivers in the Retirement Living sector visit: Retirement Living