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Author: Age Cymru
Published on 21 May 2012 04:00 PM

All new homes built in Wales must meet the needs of our ageing population and older people need extra help to live independently in their own homes.

That’s according to a coalition of organisations in response to a Welsh Government White Paper on housing out today.

‘Homes for Wales – A White Paper for Better Lives and Communities’ is the Welsh Government’s blueprint for tackling Wales’ housing needs for the future.

Age Cymru, the British Association and College of Occupational Therapists, and Care & Repair Cymru are working together to  make sure the needs of older people are covered by the Government proposals.

Age Cymru’s Director of Influencing and Programme Development, Victoria Lloyd, says:

“All new housing built in Wales should meet the lifetime homes standard – this is a set of principles that should be part of all good house design, which maximise independence and quality of life, and this needs to cover private housing developments, as well as social housing.

“The very fact that we have to adapt housing to meet people’s individual needs is a sign that housing policy to date far has failed to deliver housing stock that is fit for our full life course.

“Moreover, while the need to adapt homes exists, we clearly need a publicly-funded system that will provide people with the adaptations their homes need.

“The current system is inconsistent and it potentially discriminates against people according to their own physical needs and financial resources.

The British Association and College of Occupational Therapists’s Policy Officer Ruth Crowder says:

“It is vital that the needs of older people are covered by any new national housing strategy and this is especially important given that we have an ageing population.

“A lack of appropriate housing can have a profound impact on physical health, reducing mobility, providing an unsafe environment, and isolating people from their local community.

“There is clear evidence that involving occupational therapists in home design and adaptation can improve outcomes, reduce costs and provide sustainable living solutions around the needs of each individual.

“Taking a longer term view on inclusive housing will enable older people to remain in their communities for longer, even as their health and social care needs change.

"It is also crucial that we look at the bigger picture to ensure that there is a link between home adaptations and any regeneration programmes in our communities, to really get the most from these investments.”

Chris Jones, Managing Director of Care & Repair Cymru says:

“Suitable housing is a fundamental pillar of a successful community and older people must be able to live safe, independent and active lives in the setting that is most appropriate to them.

“Housing is inextricably linked to poverty, and inequality is not just about building new homes, but about improving existing homes and enabling them to live independently for as long as possible, reducing demand on the NHS and social care services.

“An ageing population brings far-reaching policy implications and nowhere is this more noticeable than in housing because older people’s issues mimic housing issues in their cross-cutting nature.

“We welcome the pledge to introduce a nationally branded, locally delivered, Property Improvement Loans Scheme and we look forward to helping to develop this with the Welsh Government and local authorities.”

For more information: Call Age Cymru Advice: 08000 223 444