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Our homes are ‘woeful’ for older people, claims pressure group

The vast majority of people want homes built as standard for all age groups - a contrary view to those in the property industry wanting specialist retirement communities.

A survey of over 4,000 adults conducted by polling organisation YouGov for the Centre for Ageing Better shows that 72 per cent want every new home to be built in a way which is suitable for all people of all ages and abilities. 

Some 48 per cent said not enough was done to support people to live at home safely and independently as they age.

A third of those polled said they would be encouraged to purchase a home with features to help older residents, such as handrails; a further 48 per cent saying they would be neither encouraged nor discouraged. 

The centre says there is no standardised way to assess current and future need for accessible homes in an area, with local plans which would deliver accessible homes often rejected by communities.

Yet the survey reveals that no fewer than 61 per cent of respondents don’t think their current home would be suitable for a person with a disability or an older relative to move around. 

And amongst over-65s, nearly half personally worry about themselves struggling with everyday activities like cooking, bathing or eating in the future and almost a third worry about whether someone else in their household would struggle with the same tasks.

The Centre for Ageing Better is calling for a radical overhaul of housing policy, aimed at delivering accessible homes which are age-proof, flexible and suitable for everyone. 

Developers and councils should be required to build every new home to Category 2 standard, meaning that they are accessible for someone with a disability and, if needed, can be easily and cost-effectively adapted to meet additional needs.

“The woeful state of today’s housing stock is amongst the worst in Europe. With more and more people living for longer, and many of them managing health conditions, this situation is unsustainable. We are facing an accessible housing crisis, putting unnecessary pressure on individuals, families and public services. If we do nothing, this will only get worse” explains Dr Anna Dixon, chief executive of the Centre for Ageing Better.

“There is a big market for homes that everyone can live in, regardless of their age or ability. Our research shows a strong public appetite for age-proof homes which enable people to live active and fulfilling lives – whatever their situation.

“We need everyone responsible for building new homes to get on board and give people what they want. National rules must be strengthened, and planners within local authorities must work with developers and builders to enforce them. As we seek to build more homes, we must make sure that they are suitable for everyone.”

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