03 Jul 2015
This week I’ve been discussing what older people want from their housing at both the Local Government Association annual conference in Harrogate and a King’s Fund conference in London.
I believe passionately that retirement housing must be designed for the people living in it, and that housing providers need to ensure they understand what older people actually want from their homes.
We recently carried out focus groups with people aged 55-65 asking what factors are most important to them when they look for retirement housing. I shared an overview of what we found at the conferences; that as people get older they value things that support an active and independent lifestyle.
Anchor has been providing housing and care for over 45 years and the feedback from these focus groups reaffirmed what we already know from experience - that low maintenance properties in tranquil areas, with outside space, access to local healthcare, transport links and amenities, a sense of community and social activities, are all appealing to those considering retirement property.
But knowing what people want is just the first step.
Across England we face a shortfall of suitable retirement housing. This shortfall prevents people from being able to downsize into more appropriate housing which evidence shows reduces the likelihood of falls or other health issues.
As we all live longer the pressures on our housing will only increase.
I believe we need to build more of the right types of homes for older people and ensure the shortfall is bridged. Yet planning regulations can create barriers for developers trying to build retirement housing.
We need to start planning for our future generations’ housing needs now. A national housing strategy that understands what older people want and need is essential.
We will be using the findings of our focus groups to inform some new research that we will be releasing later in the year, so watch this space.