DCLG official: Older people’s housing as crucial as climate change

Appropriate housing for an ageing society is as profound a challenge as climate change, a government official told this week’s National Children and Adult Services Conference.

Luke O’Shea, team leader, national strategy for housing in an ageing society at the Department for Communities and Local Government, said older families will constitute 48% of all new households by 2026.

He also said the number of older disabled people is expected to double by 2041 and the number with dementia is set to rise by 150% by 2051. 

“We need to have a design revolution for housing for older people,” O’Shea said. “Poor housing is linked to poor health.”

To address this, the DCLG’s national strategy for housing in an ageing society, expected to be published on 4 December, will have 10 priority areas including:

• more homes, more choice
• lifetime homes and neighbourhoods
• better repairs and adaptations services

The inter-relationship between an individual’s physical health and environment cannot be ignored, he added. One person dies every five hours as a result of a fall and up to 50,000 older people die each winter because of poor housing. Additionally, poor housing results in care home admissions, he said.

O’Shea added: “As people grow older they think that old age is 10 years away. There is a Peter Pan complex that no one ever grows old. On average we will live 15 years with a disability but none of us can picture ourselves like that. But if we are going to change anything, then we have to accept that this is about us.”

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