With the number of people in the UK over 65’s predicted to rise to 17 million in 30 years time plus a large increase in the number the over 85’s, it is essential that safe, well designed accommodation will be available to meet this demand.
Safe, secure, well designed housing that can easily be adapted is core to the new Lifetime Homes standards outlined by the Government in their paper ‘Lifetime Homes, Lifetime Neighbourhoods: A National Strategy for Housing in an Ageing Society’ In this paper Government outlined plans to create ‘Lifetime Homes in Lifetime Neighbourhoods’. They felt that this strategy was the way forward to meet the challenge of ensuring there would be sufficient housing that would be suitable to meet the projected needs of the ageing population.
Where services to individuals with complex and long-term needs are concerned, suitable housing plays a very important part as the delivery of these services is dependent upon the accessibility and/or adaptability of the individual’s home.
By building properties that are able to accommodate people’s needs as they change throughout their lives, people needn’t have to move when their circumstances and needs change. People in accommodation that can be easily adapted to their needs can remain in, and a part of, their local community well into older age thus avoiding thus avoiding the harm that social exclusion can bring to a persons well being.
It is very important that any accommodation for the frail and vulnerable forms part of the local facilities as this strengthens the links with the community and it can also provide local employment which is very important in rural areas where it is more difficult to obtain. Furthermore, although there is a need for economy of scale, that this does not prevent smaller units in villages being built, thus giving older people more options and choice of where they want to live.
By 2013, the government expects all new homes to be built to Lifetime Homes standards and will therefore have the 16 key requirements and specific features required as follows:-
- Wide doorways and hall to allow wheelchair access
- Living or family rooms at entrance level
- Level or gently sloping approach to property
- Accessible threshold, covered and lit
- Parking space capable of widening to 3300mm and distance from the car parking space kept to a minimum
- Low level window sills and electric sockets at convenient height
- Accessible entrance level toilet (giving opportunity for a shower later in 3 bedroom or larger homes)
- Provision for a stair lift in the future
- Bathroom planned to give side access to toilet and bath
- Easy route for a hoist from bedroom to bathroom
- Walls able to take adaptations ie identified space for temporary entrance level bed
The standards contained within this new approach were also aimed much more on the aspirations of older people; for authorities to recognise the future needs of an ever increasing ageing population and make the option of living independently available to as many people as possible for as long as possible.