The numbers of people aged 85+ in England increased by almost a third over the last decade and is set to more than double over the next two decades. By their late 80s, more than one in three people have difficulties undertaking five or more daily living tasks unaided. This combined with benefit cuts puts immense pressure on health and social care across the country.
To allow older people to live independent healthy lifestyles we must encourage and offer a range of housing options appealing to future generations. More needs to be done to prompt local authorities to develop housing strategies that stimulate diversity in new housing developments for older people that attract public and private investment. These could range from retirement villages, extra care housing, bungalows, shared ownership and private rented schemes and include new forms of cooperative housing, including cohousing.
There is also potential to extend the influence of older residents over the management of retirement schemes to help reduce management costs. Encouraging a collective approach also has the potential to foster mutual support and self-reliance. Creating innovative models of housing with an integrated approach to services would make it easier to offer a wider range of housing choices while also boosting local housing markets, freeing up family housing and creating employment.
Despite some progress, barriers to innovative forms of housing that are likely to appeal to future generations remain. Although most older people will continue to live in mainstream housing, retirement housing alternatives should play a greater role in our future housing offer.
BETA Healthcare will look at key policy documents surrounding health and social care and housing provision for the elderly in the UK. The event will bring together key industry figures to provide insight into alternative housing models and showcase exemplary care schemes.