Page 0026


and patient involvement to win approval. She mentioned specifically that there

were, "a number of incentives that don't support lifetime care for an 82-yearold sitting at home. It doesn't

make sense with what we have at the moment".77

3.5 Shortfall of housing for older people

The under-occupation of housing and the lack of viable alternatives for older

people looking to downsize are potentially preventing significant savings to

health and social care costs and adding to delayed transfers of care.

The Office for National Statistics General Lifestyle Survey found that nearly 2.5

million people over 75 live alone; 1.8million of these are women.78 This vast

cohort of the elderly are at more risk of social isolation and loneliness, which

can have serious repercussions. A study of 6,500 UK men and women aged

over 52 found that being isolated from family and friends was linked with a 26

per cent higher death risk over seven years.79

It has been estimated that if all of those interested in buying retirement properties

were able to do so then it would mean more than three million properties would

be released.80 Large numbers of elderly people living alone are also living in

what was family housing and this means firstly that the housing is not suitable

and secondly it adds pressure to the housing market. Living in unsuitable

housing results in a greater risk of accident or injury. Falls and fractures in

people aged 65 and over account for more than four million hospital bed days

each year in England alone.81 Lack of housing adaption also results in problems

in discharging old age patients. 40,000 needless days per year are spent in

hospital by patients awaiting home adaptations before discharge.82

On the latter as well as preventing significant savings to health and social

care costs housing under-occupation also aggravates the problems within the

housing market. Shelter calculated that if 20 per cent of those older households

which are currently under-occupied were to downsize, around 840,000 familysized homes would be released, including 760,000 in the owner-occupied

sector.83 This would benefit first time buyers as people above them move up the

housing ladder.

So why are these older people not moving to more suitable accommodation?

Retirement housing provides safer accommodation and access to professionals

who can offer falls awareness advice and other forms of support which ultimately

prevents hospital admissions. Older people are aware that they are living in

unsuitable housing-a recent report found that 58 per cent of over-60s wanted

to move to more specialised accommodation but felt restricted by a lack of

suitable alternatives or fear of an unfamiliar environment.84

And they are right to wonder if the right housing is out there for them. 77

per cent of respondents to our survey thought that there was not enough

appropriate later life housing in their area. Just 2 per cent of English housing

stock is retirement housing and homes built specifically for older people have

decreased from 30,000 per year in the 1980s to 8,000 per year today.85

More generally, a quarter of over-60s expressed particular interest in buying

a retirement property - a total of 3.5 million people - though the availability

of such property at the time of the report's publication - 100,000 - is a tiny

percentage of that number.86

What lies behind this shortfall? England's current housing stock is fully accessible

to older people. And with those over 85 set to grow by 33 per cent over the

next ten years, demand for specialisit housing is bound to outstrip supply. But

77 Lintern, L, "New care model

proposals 'must involve patients'

LGC (16 January 2015)

78 Office for National Statistics,

General Lifestyle Survey 2011 (7

March 2013)

79 Demos, The top of the ladder


80 Demos, The top of the ladder


81 Age UK, "Nearly 2 million NHS

days lost to delayed discharge"

(11 June 2014)

82 Age UK, "Nearly 2 million NHS

days lost to delayed discharge"

(11 June 2014)

83 Demos, The top of the ladder


84 Demos, The top of the ladder


85 Demos, The affordability of

retirement housing (2014)

86 Demos, The top of the ladder



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