An age-friendly city is a city that encourages active ageing by optimising opportunities for health, participation and security in order to enhance the quality of life as people age - World Health Organisation
Housing is essential to people’s sense of safety and wellbeing. There is a link between appropriate housing and access to community and social services and in influencing the independence and quality of life of older people.
There are organisations in Bristol who are doing great work around the city to enable older, vulnerable and disabled people to continue to live independently in their homes, such as home adaption services, community development projects and home share initiatives.
In May 2018 Bristol Ageing Better held the event Age-friendly Homes: Building Solutions Together. The purpose of this event was to hear the views and experiences of people in Bristol and together learn about the barriers to Age-friendly housing and the possible short-term and long-term solutions.
The 2017 Quality of Life survey found that respondents aged 50+ had low levels of satisfaction with the financial costs associated with their housing. Only 56% of those aged 50+ were satisfied with the cost of their rent or mortgage payments, increasing very slightly to 60% of those aged 65 and over. Similarly, only 46% of respondents aged 50+ were satisfied with the cost of heating their home. Our conversations with older people suggest that cost of housing is a common issue, with not enough affordable options available.
It is unsurprising that housing is one of the more difficult issues to make completely age-friendly. More than 90% of older people in England live in mainstream housing, as opposed to specialist housing or residential care. In a recent evidence review by the Centre for Ageing Better (2018) called Room to Improve: The Role of Home Adaptions in Improving Later Life,10 it is noted that:
“Current UK housing stock is often not accessible or adapted to meet people’s needs as they get older, with small room sizes, steep internal stairs, baths rather than showers and steps outside.”
The complexity of the different housing options available is a common problem. Many professionals and older people reported that they lacked information and yet were also unsure where to go to find out the information they needed. Furthermore, rising house prices, gentrification, and changing communities also pose as barriers when it comes to allowing older people to live where they want.
Encourage older people to think about their housing options at an earlier stage in their lives.
Training for housing staff and volunteers that challenges stereotypes encourages a shift in attitudes around the needs of older people.
Develop and disseminate materials around the types of the home adaptions that can be made.
Bristol City Council to review and develop their approach to Extra Care Housing and additional options including intergenerational approaches