Homes for the Ages

In less than 20 years’ time, one in four people in the UK will be over the age of 65 and some 80% of the homes that will exist in 2050 have already been built – but only nine per cent of the country’s homes currently meet the most basic of accessibility standards.

We wanted to delve deeper into the themes around this.

In 2021, building on our original research into the role technology can play, we produced a documentary charting the state of housing for older people and looking ahead to how we – collectively – can solve some of these issues.

Knowing it’s not just about the bricks and mortar and the technology we place in our homes, we looked into various themes including home adaptations, placemaking, health, and the importance of human interaction.

Our filmmakers spoke to experts from across the country, including people from the National Housing Federation, the Centre for Ageing Better, specialist housing provider Habinteg and the National Innovation Centre for Ageing.

Commentary also comes from our key local authority partner West Lindsey District Council, innovative adaptations company Invisible Creations and our own in-house experts.

And we couldn’t do something like this without including customers, whose voices remain the most important in all of this.

Our recommendations

As a result of our findings, we made several recommendations - for us, and those organisations involved in supporting these customers - to take forward. We have already started this journey with two key growth initiatives focused on meeting this need - but there's more to be done.
One overarching recommendation for everyone is:

  • 'Do with' rather than 'do for' - enable someone to live independently for as long as possible through an ability first approach.

We recommend:

  • Recognising that age is not the most important measure, we will commit to raising the specification of our new build developments and work towards the standard set out by the Homes Made for Everyone (HoME) coalition. We will co-design our specification for our homes with our customers over the next 12-months.
  • We will identify at least one placemaking area where we will include 'hidden' adaptations without our homes as standard.
  • We will commit to adapting existing homes with dignity in mind. We will upskill our people to recognise the signs of ageing and to be trusted assessors, so homes never feel like a hospital. And we will work with the community to help promote independence at home.
  • We will reduce the digital skills gap in our communities through an investment in training and technological solutions to help maintain their independence and safety as well as to help them connect with their wider community.
  • We commit to undertaking a feasibility study to investigate developing an intergenerational housing setting within the time frame of our next growth strategy.
  • Other recommendations
  • Inside the home: housing providers, from housing associations to private developers, should consider placing light-touch digital solutions within their homes from the outset. Devices such as Alexa, Echo or Ring doorbells should now become the norm for inclusion in new developments.
  • Outside the home: Recognising that human interaction is still key, developments which consider communal social spaces - inside and out - should be given more consideration in the local planning process or feasibility stage.
  • Health providers to develop varies levels of support with housing providers that enables early intervention to meet the different needs of customers, maximising budgets, support and impact.
  • Home Improvement Agencies should ensure their focus is not solely on the bricks and mortar of a home, rather thinking about wellbeing, social prescribing or technological solutions to support people.