by Jeremy Porteus
Dylan Thomas urged older people to rage against the dying of the light.
For too long, however, the limited housing options open to people with age-related care needs have robbed them of independence and choice. Many are forced prematurely into expensive residential care.
If social care’s commitment to personalisation means anything, the sector’s commissioners should be working with counterparts in housing and health to develop housing with care strategies.
Care and support should be shaped around people’s lifestyles and housing choices – not the other way round.
Care managers, meanwhile, should not see residential care or traditional sheltered housing as the default solution for older clients who can no longer live in their existing home.
There is mounting evidence that less institutional forms of accommodation – such as extra care housing – are good for both the individual and care budgets.
An evaluation of local authority-led extra care housing partnerships, to be published next month, is set to confirm that residents valued the independence, security, availability of care and social interaction the schemes provided.
It is also expected to conclude that this model is a viable alternative to residential care for many older people. Credible research at Kent university personal social services research unit suggests that delaying entry into residential care by one year could save up to £26,000 in non-care costs.
The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services has recognised the potential benefits for both older people and care budgets. It has worked with my organisation to create a resource pack that will help guarantee social care authorities and their partners develop housing with care strategies and set about delivering them.
If they fail to do so, they can expect an older generation demanding choice, quality and independence in care services to rage against more than the dying of the light
Jeremy Porteus is director of the Housing Learning and Improvement Network