Retirement Living
Retirement Living

Lifetime Homes a Solution for an Ageing Population’s Housing Issues

September, 2012 TSG_PTIMG_houses

The UK population is an ageing one. Since 1983, there has been an increase of 1.5 million people aged 65 and over, compared to a 2% drop in under-16s. The fastest increase has been in the number of people aged 85 and over, those most likely to become vulnerable in terms of health, housing and independence.

It has therefore become crucial for central and local government to demonstrate an understanding of their ageing populations’ needs through policy and strategy that reflects those needs. To ensure that communities and councils can provide homes, communities and services for the increasing number of older (and frequently vulnerable) adults has become a national priority.
In response to this cultural change in local government and to the government’s national strategy, Lifetime Homes, Lifetime Neighbourhoods – A National Strategy for housing in an Ageing Society, has overseen a strategy to ensure that all homes built privately and publicly in the United Kingdom (UK) will, from now on, be built with elderly people in mind.

This change in perspective, and its subsequent consequences, cannot be underestimated. New homes are frequently built with only first-time buyers in mind. Future homes in Berkshire will be built with an assumption that at some point older people will inhabit them.

Narrow stair-cases and doorways may go unnoticed by a twenty-something couple moving into their first home, but to an elderly person, these easily-avoided construction issues could mean needing to leave their home and rely on residential care, which is both costly to the tax-payer and debilitating to an individual’s independence.

The recommendations set out by BIEP’s report will enable authorities to deliver national objectives for an ageing population. Whilst encouraging adaptability and accessibility in new homes, the 16-design standards within the Lifetime Homes National Strategy and the 11 statement of principles in this newly produced document provide a clear route for cost-effective new developments. Rather than adding additional barriers to new builds, the implementation of the recommendations should result in adding value and desirability to the homes.

In addition to enabling elderly people to stay in their homes the document addresses the issues surrounding the creation of Lifetime Neighbourhoods across Berkshire.  The recommendations seek to minimise the prominence of roads, thereby giving priority to pedestrians. Further to this, it requires new development to meet high standards of design in order to retain a sense of place and individuality within communities.  It also encourages the management of public spaces enjoyed by the elderly and other groups in the community.
The strategy, Positive Planning for an Ageing Society, has addressed the issues outlined by central government by creating a series of recommendations for new developments, which will improve both the quality, and the practicality of homes for the entire community. It will enable elderly people to remain in their homes and communities for longer, as well as encouraging the development and management of public spaces and pedestrian communities that can be enjoyed by all.

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