The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) has released new advice about how houses can be best planned to accommodate elderly people, PBC Today reports. The plans focus on both the design of the buildings themselves, and also how well located they are to meet the needs of older people.
The vast majority of the existing housing stock in England is not built to recommended accessibility standards, meaning that elderly people have a lower quality of life, or they have to move to residential or nursing accommodation sooner than they would have otherwise needed to.
Better planned housing not only keeps people safer from accidents, but also allows them to maintain social connections and stay part of the community. The RTPI carried out an extensive consultation process to prepare the new guidance, which highlights the importance of well-planned homes which are affordable and accessible.
Victoria Hills, chief executive of the Royal Town Planning Institute said: “Proactive planning for older people will help deliver much needed homes in the right places, helping to build community hubs where older people can easily and safely reach the everyday shops and services that they need.”
She added: “The RTPI’s practice advice demonstrates how, by working collaboratively with care workers, housing providers and developers, planners can help meet the country’s net zero ambitions, tackle the housing crisis, and address the health and wellbeing of our aging population.”
It is estimated that only 9% of homes in the UK have adequate accessibility features for older and disabled people. Habinteg estimates that over 400,000 wheelchair users live in homes which have not been adapted for their needs.
Furthermore, there are currently 11 million people in the UK aged over 65, which is set to increase to 13 million within the next 10 years, which will represent 22% of the population.
Sarah Davis, senior policy and practice officer at the Chartered Institute of Housing said: “CIH believes that the home is fundamental to health and wellbeing. For older people, living in homes that suit their needs and provide appropriate support and opportunities to engage with others is a huge benefit for living well and independently in older age.”
She added: “We welcome the opportunity to support this briefing from RTPI which will support local planners to include specialist homes in local plans and enable this opportunity to be available for more older people in their local areas.”
Despite the state pension age increasing to 66 in the UK, the number of years older people can expect to remain in good health is declining, with a rise in complex and debilitating illnesses. This puts extra pressure on the social care and health services, a burden which could be reduced if more people lived in safe and suitable housing.
The recent pandemic has exacerbated many of these problems, which are likely to get worse unless significant action is taken to improve the current housing stock.
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