A new report on rural housing for an ageing population has been published by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Housing and Care for Older People.
The report follows an Inquiry established by the All-Party Parliamentary Group and concludes that older people's housing is neglected in rural areas.
The report makes a number of 'rural proofing' recommendations to increase the quality, supply and range of more appropriate age-friendly housing. It suggests an adaptation of the Housing our Ageing Population: Panel for Innovation (HAPPI) principles when designing new homes for older people in rural areas, noting that new housing could preserve independence for older people and save NHS and social care funds.
It also recognises the need to build greater resilience and connectivity amongst local communities across all ages in the countryside. The Inquiry saw firsthand and heard evidence that building hubs for older people within villages also has the added benefit of retaining their support networks of family and friends. The Inquiry therefore also calls for wider community-led support solutions that could help people remain in their own village and stay connected in isolated rural communities.
In the Foreword to Rural Housing for an Ageing Population: Preserving Independence, The Rural HAPPI Inquiry which has been written by Jeremy Porteus; Lord Best, Chair of the APPG Rural Housing Inquiry said, 'For all the many advantages of living in the countryside, life can be pretty miserable if your home is no longer right for you...Our underlying concern is with the growing numbers of older people in rural communities who will face a huge challenge to their independence and wellbeing if their homes are no longer suitable. Their needs can be met by both small village developments – perhaps six bungalows on an unused scrap of land – or by larger scale retirement schemes in towns close by.
'While we concluded that both these solutions can work well, we were particularly keen to remove the barriers to helping people remain in their own locality. We recognised that there are extra costs of delivering care to those in rural areas, we were clear that tailor-made homes will, of themselves, reduce the need for care at home and help older people stay well for longer.
'We also noted the value of “care and repair” home improvement services that enable people to stay put, postponing or preventing the need for a costly move. Our recommendations, therefore, seek to remove the barriers to more and better homes for the ageing population in rural areas. We commend them to all the key players and we are grateful to all those who gave up their time to let us visit, and who submitted evidence or shared it with us at our Inquiry sessions in Westminster.'
Rural Housing for an Ageing Population: Preserving Independence, The Rural HAPPI Inquiry makes a number of recommendations for the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, Ministry for Housing, Communities & Local Government, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, HM Treasury, Homes England, housing associations, local authorities, parish councils, land owners and rural employers.
It is the fourth report from the Housing our Ageing Population Panel for Innovation.