A new report from the Centre for Ageing Better, Adapting for ageing, jointly published with Care and Repair England, identifies examples of good practice from across England on providing life-changing adaptations in the home to enable people to carry out every day activities such as cooking, bathing or using the toilet.
The report reveals innovative approaches and calls for other councils and service providers to learn from the good practice it has uncovered. These include proactively raising awareness of available support and how to access it, delivering home adaptations quickly and without means-testing, linking adaptation services with vital home improvements and working with handyperson services.
More than 90% of people over the age of 65 live in ordinary, mainstream housing (rather than specialist retirement accommodation). Only 7% of UK homes meet basic national accessibility requirements. As older people increasingly want to stay in their own homes for as long as possible, it is clear that something needed to be done to help enable this.
The report highlights the benefits of a proactive, prevention-focused approach to providing adaptations to older people's homes, while improving the information and advice offered on the options available. Previous research shows that investment in adaptations is highly cost-effective, helping to improve wellbeing, keep people out of hospital, prevent or delay moves into residential care, and reduce the need for carers. This is particularly true when they are installed early on and in combination with repairs and improvements.
There also needs to be a more consistent approach to measuring the outcomes of home adaptations and improvements as part of an integrated approach to housing, health and care. Given the wide-ranging impacts of home adaptations, particularly for reducing pressure on the NHS, it is imperative that national Government continues to fund the Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) and ensure councils have sufficient revenue funding to provide the services that deliver the adaptations effectively.
Dr Rachael Docking, Senior Evidence Manager, Centre for Ageing Better said:
"Through our call for practice, we’ve uncovered fantastic examples of innovative, forward-thinking approaches to helping people to keep on living in their homes for longer. The Disabled Facilities Grant has been called the best kept secret in social care funding, and this report highlights those councils that are making the most of what powers and revenue they have. We’re sharing the good practice we’ve found so that everyone can enjoy the benefits of a good later life – and unnecessary NHS and social care costs can be avoided."