Homes In England ‘Not Good For Ageing’

Homes in England tend to be poorly equipped for older people to live in, a new report has said.

The Centre For Ageing Better has warned that as many as 4.1 million homes in England do not meet basic living standards set by the government, with Ageing Better estimating in previous research that nearly half of them are home to at least one person aged over 55.

In the report, titled Getting Our Homes In Order: How England’s Homes Are Failing Us, it noted that common problems range from damp and cold to physical disrepair and a lack of accessibility, not least to bathrooms.

These issues are exacerbated by a common perception by people that they are not old enough to make certain adjustments to their home to prepare for their future needs, along with a lack of finance to do so, and not knowing where they can find a tradesperson they can trust to carry out the work.

Many of those reporting an issue were tenants who were unsure how they could get necessary improvements to be made by their landlords. Some raised issues but did not receive a satisfactory response, or get the remedial action that was required.

Focusing on the issue of mobility, the report noted: “It was common for those who were currently experiencing mobility restrictions to speak about wanting substantial changes to their homes, such as structural changes to their entranceways, bathrooms and stairs.”

One of the respondents to the survey underpinning the report said: “We worry about slipping, getting a fracture, or damaging the body. It is better to avoid such problems with a standing shower.” Another respondent reported having such difficulty accessing their bathroom they had to wash in the sink or visit relatives to take a shower.

This suggests there is a substantial unfulfilled need for mobility bathrooms and other solutions.

All the problems highlighted in the report have been given greater emphasis by the pandemic, as it has led to people spending more time at home, Ageing Better stated. In some cases, it noted, poorer housing condition such as cold and a lack of apace could make residents more vulnerable to catching Covid-19.

A report produced last month by the International Longevity Centre UK highlighted a likely reason for so many homes being unsuitable for older people to live in.

It noted that just 0.7 per cent of people aged over 65 live in properties designed to cater for their emerging care needs, compared with over five per cent in Australia and New Zealand and more than six per cent in the US. Being able to use a bathroom independently was one of the issues covered in the report.

Ensuring that housing is equipped for the needs of older people will be vital due to the ageing population, the report states, with demographic trends providing a clear indication of increasing needs; by 2025 the number of over-65s will be 8.8 per cent higher than now, with the figure rising to 37.3 per cent more than now by 2040.


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