Our sustainability stories

Housing options for older people

9 Mar 2015

The World Is Getting Older And People Are Living For Longer

Individuals generally have not saved enough during their working lives, under-estimating their outgoings in retirement, life expectancy and the cost of care. Pensioners will need to rely increasingly on alternative sources of finance to fund this ‘savings gap’. The over 60s in the UK are estimated to have some £1.3 trillion of housing equity and we expect increasing numbers of retirees to use this equity to supplement their retirement income.

John Galvin Chief Executive Officer at the Elderly Accommodation Counsel, one of our major charity partners in the UK, gives us his views on later life housing and our work together to better understand real life needs in this market.

What Role Can Companies Like Legal & General Play In Giving People In Later Life A Home?

“Markets are likely to play an increased role in welfare provision. Since the early 1980s policy has both featured and positioned welfare as a consumer concern. People are increasingly finding themselves needing to access markets and make choices in order to achieve desired welfare outcomes. This shift to a ‘choice based economy’ may be seen to characterise later life housing”

Why Is A Home At The Centre Of The Debate?

“Whilst there might be many different forms of housing and conceptualisations of the ‘home’, housing is recognised as a key determinant of health, wellbeing and independence for older people. Falls and fractures are the largest cause of mortality in older adults, with huge cost implications for the NHS, yet a high proportion of these incidents occur in the home and are ultimately avoidable. Adaptions of existing homes or a move from a large and impractical house into a more manageable flat or sheltered housing development may enable an older person to live relatively independently”

Is It Just About Having A Home?

“Given the importance of housing to wider health, wellbeing and independence and with the need to act as an informed consumer in a complex marketplace, it is argued that information and advice is essential in enabling older people to make appropriate and informed choices about how and where they wish to live. Chief among the many information and advice providers operating in the third sector is EAC FirstStop Advice – the national housing and care network. It’s open to everyone and it’s free. I’m sure your employees having to make difficult decisions on what to do with mum and dad have already used it!”

What Are Legal & General Doing To Help EAC?

“We started working together on the Housing in Later Life Awards almost 5 years ago. Since then you have helped over 16,000 residents in 1,250 later life housing developments in the UK have an independent voice about what life is really like.

We are pleased that our new research project, part-funded by Legal & General, aims to conduct a closer examination of what older people do with the guidance on their housing options provided by FirstStop. It is exploring how information and advice is accessed and used and what part it plays in individual outcomes.

Surprisingly little similar research has been conducted before. Much current research work is focused on the outcomes/impact of medical information, but even this has rarely attempted to understand how information is used to attain preferences or desired outcomes. Consequently, very little is known about the efficacy of information provision.

Focusing on and understanding more about these areas should help to inform the design and delivery of FirstStop’s service and to sharpen its ability to help older people remain independent. More broadly, we hope it will provide evidence to support the case for expanding housing information and advice services to older people thereby strengthening their opportunities in the transition to market-based policies that we referred to earlier.

Want To Know More?

The funded PhD research project is being conducted by Andy Harding at Bournemouth University (where coincidentally L&G has recently funded new student accommodation).

As employees of Legal & General you might have already seen some of Andrew’s work where he was asking you for opinions where you have relatives in later life housing.

If you would like to know more about the project, please don’t hesitate to contact him at aharding@bournemouth.ac.uk.

A massive thank you from the team here at EAC to the employees at Legal & General for their long term commitment to solving the later life housing conundrum that most us of us of working age will rely upon being in place.

Watch this space for the results of the research findings over the coming year!”