NHS to encourage builders to make homes fit for elderly
06:00 08 February 2014
Much more will be done by the NHS to encourage house builders to think about “future-proofing” homes to ensure people can live in them into extreme old age.
That was the message from health minister Dr Dan Poulter at a meeting called by Suffolk County Council to discuss how improving homes could reduce the number of people facing a care crisis as they get older.
Dr Poulter, MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, joined the chairman of Suffolk’s Health and Wellbeing Board, Joanna Spicer, on the platform at a meeting called by the county to discuss how better housing could reduce the need for costly care.
He said the government’s care bill, which he is piloting through parliament as junior health minister, provided £3.8billion for local authorities to work with the NHS and housing providers to ensure new homes would be suitable for the long term.
Dr Poulter said: “It is far better for people to be able to remain in their own homes as they get older rather than facing moving into care.
“What we need to do is to work with local authorities and builders to ensure that homes are built in such a way that they can be ‘future-proofed’.”
The cost of preparing homes in this way was much less than the cost of providing permanent care, of treating people in hospital because they were unable to return home after treatment.
The meeting was also addressed by Stephen Javes, chief executive of the Orwell Housing Association, who said people needed to think of how they could cope in the future as they decided to move or stay in their current home.
The most important thing was that there was a dialogue between the three elements – housing providers, social services, and the NHS.
He said: “In the past there has been good dialogue between those providing homes and social services, but it has not been so good with the NHS.
“That needs to change, and it is changing. What this meeting is doing is bringing us together and that is very important. Once we work together we can then get down to more practical issues.”
More than three quarters of those aged 65 or more own their own home – and for those aged more than 80, the figure rises to 80%.
Mr Javes said his association was developing a sheltered housing scheme that was partially for rent, with some bungalows available for sale and some shared equity.
He said: “That gives people who want to own their own home the chance to do so while still have the insurance of knowing they can have support if they need it in the future. That is the way forward for many people.”