New Deputy Housing Champion for the North West.

We are delighted to welcome Pauline Whittaker as the new deputy Housing Champion for the North West.
Pauline has lived in Kirkby, Merseyside for 65 years, and prior to retirement worked at Canon UK Mersey. She is active on a number of national and local forums:
 
National
Member of the executive committee of the North West Pensioners Association and the National Pensioners Convention (NPC), which lobbies MPs on behalf of pensioners. Some of the successes achieved through NPC are the pensioners freedom pass, and the guarantee of the triple lock on pension rises.
 
Local (Knowsley)
Pauline is a member of Knowsley Older People’s Voice (KOPV) where she serves on their Steering Group. She also sits on the Older People’s Partnership Board, and the Management Committee of Healthwatch Knowsley, and attends the patient group at Aintree hospital.  After being an active member of the Knowsley Care and Repair Steering Group she now sits on the Steering Group for the Centre for Independent Living.
We look forward to welcoming Pauline in person at the next Housing Champions meeting, and to the invaluable knowledge, expertise and experience she will bring to the network.
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Non Decent Homes Guide

The Non Decent Homes Guide is part of a series which offers practical information and advice for local older people’s forums and groups who want to influence local policy, plans and actions in relation to housing and older people. The guide, written by Care & Repair England, draws on the experience of members of the Older People’s Housing Champions network and a presentation given to the Champions in March 2019 by housing expert Helen Garrett of the Building Research Establishment.

This guide aims to provide the lay person with a brief overview of:

  • the extent of housing disrepair in England
  • what is meant by ‘non-decent’ homes and sources of technical information • the impact of poor housing on older occupants
  • action to improve existing homes
  • potential opportunities to influence local decisions about addressing disrepair

The Non Decent Homes Guide can be found here

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Housing Action by Older People’s Groups in Slough and London

The Slough 50plus Forum and Care & Repair England, with initial input from the South East Forum on Ageing (SEEFA), started an internal discussion with Forum members to reflect on what is important about housing in later life. The forum group discussed the “meaning of home” and some members created personalised Digital Stories to “bring to life” their experiences.

In London, Care and Repair England worked with Positive Ageing in London to highlight the views and experiences of older Londoners who have had home adaptations carried out to their homes, highlighting what worked well for them as well as possible improvements. Two focus groups were carried out in April & May 2019, one of the groups including older residents from across the London Boroughs, and the other group included older residents based in the London Borough of Hackney.

The reports from London and Slough can be found here. The Slough report contains links to the personalised Digital Stories.

These reports sit alongside the work of the Older People’s Housing Champions Group on developing their Ideas for Action* guides working with local older people’s groups and organisations across England. In London and Slough older people have come together to influence housing policy and plans locally- the reports highlight their key recommendations.    

These reports also highlight pioneering ways to engage with older people whose voices are less often heard.

If you are taking any local action on housing and ageing, we would love to hear from you.

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Health and Housing

Disappointment in the NHS long term plan on the lack of detail on the impact of housing – and at a time when the World Health Organisations produces a report identifying evidence-based, global recommendations on housing conditions and interventions that promote health.

See Sue Adam’s (Chief Executive of Care & Repair England’s) Blog on the issues for housing and health at this critical time [January 2019]

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Disabled Facilities Grant and other adaptations – external review published and housing important in Government survey of older people

An independent review of the Disabled Facilities Grant in England, commissioned by DHSC and MHCLG and written by the University of the West of England, Foundations, the Building Research Establishment and Ferret Information System was published in December 2018.

After health and finance, older people identify housing as the third most pressing issue to address with regard to population ageing. In a large scale survey of older people carried out for the Government by Saga, 52% of respondents said that designing housing and communities to meet the needs of multiple generations was one of the main societal issues that arise from people living longer (the third most important issue after health and finance).

Home repairs expenditure was reported as the main use of disposable income after holidays. The survey was undertaken in Nov 2018 in connection with the Ageing Society Grand Challenge.

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Planning Ahead: influencing local planning on housing and ageing

The Older People’s Housing Champions Group, working in partnership with Care & Repair England has published Planning Ahead: Influencing local planning on housing and ageing

This new guide provides an overview of the planning system and potential opportunities to influence the homes and neighbourhoods being planned and built, particularly regarding making good inclusive places to live as people get older. It also contains a practical example of how High Peak Access Group influenced the Local Plan

It is aimed at local older people’s groups and forums and draws on the experience of members of the older people’s housing champions network and on a session held earlier this year with Katy Lock, projects and policy manager, from the Town and Country Planning Association. [November 2018]

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Reading for the darker nights: A number of reports focused on housing and ageing have recently been published

Here is an update on several useful reports published in the last month or so that consider issues of housing and ageing:

  1. Published in October Housing and Ageing: Linking Strategy to future delivery for Scotland, Wales and England 2030, recommends that housing should play a central role in the provision of services for older people. Led by the University of Stirling, this cross border research concludes that housing should be at the heart of service integration whether older people choose to stay in their existing home or move.
  2. The Government launched its first cross-Government strategy to tackle loneliness in October too. There is a chapter on housing.
  3. Poor housing occupied by people with long term health problems or disability, particularly older home-owners, is a major and growing problem in the North of England and requires urgent government action. This is the headline conclusion of a new report, The hidden costs of poor quality housing in the North published by the Northern Housing Consortium The report calls for a new Decent Private Homes grants programme, arguing that there is strong evidence that intervention costs would be offset against reduced care and health expenditure.
  4. Adapting for Ageing, published by the Centre for Ageing Better, highlights local innovation and good practice in delivery of home adaptations for older people by pioneers across England.

The report, researched and written by Care & Repair England, describes a range of innovative approaches to enable councils, commissioners, home improvement agencies and social housing providers to learn from the good practice it has uncovered.

It describes what a ‘good’ service looks like from the perspective of older people, providing a breakdown of key factors against which local areas can review their own services.  [October 2018]

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Housing Action by Older People’s Groups in Hull and Wirral

These reports from Hull and Wirral sit alongside the work of the Older People’s Housing Champions Group on developing their Ideas for Action* guides working with local older people’s groups and organisations across England.

These guides offer practical ideas for older people’s groups, forums and organisations who want to influence local housing policy, plans and action. In Hull and Wirral older people have come together to influence housing policy and plans locally and have been written up to share ideas with others.

All the reports and guides can be accessed here.

These reports also highlight pioneering ways to engage with older people whose voices are less often heard.

If you are taking any local action on housing and ageing, we would love to hear from you. [August 2018]

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Handyperson services: New evidence of cost benefits

A new report from Care & Repair England concludes that handyperson services offer a high rate of return on investment, as well as wider social benefits, and are highly prized by older people, particularly ‘older old’ single women living alone.

Small but Significant: The impact and cost benefits of handyperson services – clearly shows how these low cost schemes, which carry out small repairs and minor adaptations for older people (primarily delivered by not for profit Care and Repair and other home improvement agencies) result in fiscal and social gains to the NHS and Social Care.

The report includes a detailed evaluation of the Preston Care and Repair Handyperson Service, identifying a high level of use of the service by ‘older old’ (80yrs+) people and more vulnerable groups, particularly the rising number of older single women living alone, often with chronic long term health conditions, reducing mobility and sight loss.

Handyperson services provide older people with great relief from worry about their home, resulting in them feeling more independent and in control:

  • 96% of older people said that the Preston Care & Repair handyperson service made them less worried about their home
  • 100% would recommend the service to others

Relevant to policy makers, service planners, commissioners and providers, Small but Significant shows how handyperson services can play a critical role in the integration and prevention agendas.

A short summary brochure is also available here.  [July 2018]

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Ideas for action guides: practical ideas to influence local housing policy, plans and action

The Older People’s Housing Champions Group, in partnership with Care & Repair England and local organisations from different parts of England, has published a series of Ideas for Action guides.

These Ideas for Action guides, plus a linked ‘Housing Voices‘ film, resource pack and report from Elders Council of Newcastle working with Skimstone Arts and Northumbria University, offer practical ideas for older people’s groups, forums and organisations who want to influence local housing policy, plans and action.

They highlight pioneering ways to engage with older people whose voices are less often heard.

We are very grateful to the Esmèe Fairbairn Foundation for making this work possible.

The guides, film and resources can all be accessed here [July 2018]

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