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NHS bed blocking crisis will get worse unless thousands of care ready homes are built, warns National Housing Federation

27th February 2015
READING TIME:

5 minutes

The NHS bed blocking crisis will deepen due to more older patients waiting for home adaptations and care arrangements in the future, unless we build a new generation of adaptable, care-ready homes, the National Housing Federation warns today.

With three million more adults aged over 65 expected in England by 2030, the National Housing Federation estimates that over 100,000 extra homes for older people will be needed in the housing association sector alone in the next 15 years1. It fears worse ‘bed blocking bottle-necks’ and an NHS stretched to breaking point unless homes designed for later life, with on-site care services available are built.
Latest reports from Age UK showed that 1.9 million bed days were lost to the NHS in the four years to June 2014, as older patients waited in limbo, ready to leave hospital but delayed because of care packages or home adaptations taking time to be arranged.

The current lack of existing housing suitable for later life is highlighted by new research from YouGov2 commissioned by the National Housing Federation. The research shows that more than half (52%) of over 55 homeowners – the equivalent of around 7.6 million people3 – say they would have to move or make adaptations to their current home if they developed care needs or mobility problems, meaning they would be stuck in hospital until housing arrangements could be made.

Highlighting the need for a better choice of homes for older people to move to, the research also found that of homeowners who would like to move but haven’t yet, almost one in five (19%) said it was because there are no appropriate properties available to them in the area they wish to stay in. The research also showed that:

  • Only 24% of over 55s said their current home would be suitable if they had care needs or mobility problems in the future, and wouldn’t need to make adaptations.
  • A third (33%) of over 55s who said they have moved house or would like to do so in the future, did so to live in a home that was better equipped for later life.

By building a sufficient range and scale of affordable, adaptable and desirable homes for our aging population, people in later life would be encouraged to down size earlier and live in homes with a range of options such as on-site managers, transport and adaptation services to help people with mobility problems.

It says that the shortage of suitable homes designed for people reaching later life is part of the country’s wider housing crisis and that it’s essential that homes for later stages in life are given as much priority as homes designed for first-time buyers and younger families.

The National Housing Federation, as part of the Homes for Britain coalition, wants all political parties to commit to end the housing crisis within a generation. It’s calling for the next government to publish a long-term plan within a year of taking office that sets out how they will achieve this. That plan needs to include recognition of the role each part of the housing sector needs to make towards delivering the range of housing and care options we need for our ageing population.

David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, said: “Unless we start building the right homes for our future older population now, the impact down the line on the NHS could be catastrophic.

“Housing associations have already begun developing well-designed homes for over 55s that are self-contained houses and apartments with built in care services available when needed, but they need the support from government to do much more.

“As we get older we all deserve to have well-designed homes that promote good health. To solve the care crisis for good and relieve pressure in the NHS we have to get housing right first.

“Ahead of the election we are calling for all political parties to commit to end the housing crisis within a generation and that must include delivering the range of housing and care options we need for our ageing population.”

ENDS

For more information and interviews please contact the National Housing Federation’s media team: 0207 067 1146. Out of hours: 07786 916877

NOTES TO EDITORS: All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,459 homeowners aged 55+. Fieldwork was undertaken between 16th-18th December 2014. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 55+).

[1] Figure inferred from Homes and Communities Agency Statistical Return 2014 data on number of HA homes classed as being for older people and ONS population projections

2 Figures are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,459 homeowners aged 55+. Fieldwork was undertaken between 16th-18th December 2014. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 55+).

3 Calculations based on Labour Force Survey Data (Q3 2014). The number of homeowners aged 55plus = 14,588,393, 58.1% thereof = 7,558,246

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