Taskforce to transform older people’s housing underway

LONDON: Work to boost suitable housing options for older people kicked off today, as a government-appointed taskforce met for the first time in London.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), working with the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC), has brought together a team of experts to lead this crucial work, that will report back to government on how it can improve housing for older people.

The Taskforce will focus on ensuring the government is offering a range of housing options for older people. This will ensure the housing market works for older people, now and in the future, and gives them greater choice in where they choose to live.

Providing homes with support will help reduce costs to the social care and health systems, giving older people more independence in their own homes.

The Taskforce began its inaugural meeting today at Grace House, a retirement living scheme in St John’s Wood, hosted by Aster Group.

The Housing and Care Minister’s addressed the Taskforce noting the significance this work will have to help people live independently for longer.

Speaking at the event, Housing Minister, Rachel Maclean said:

Older people must have access to the right homes in the right places that suit their needs.

I have seen first-hand today how good quality homes have greatly improved the lives of older people. The Taskforce’s important work in the coming months will help support our commitment in delivering quality housing across the country.

“I’m looking forward to listening to the Taskforce’s findings as we help the growth of a thriving older people’s housing sector in this country.”

Minister for Care Helen Whately said:

Most people want to stay living in their own home for as long as possible. That means having the right sort of homes to make that possible.

Our Taskforce is about making that happen – so that as people thankfully live longer, you can also enjoy more years of independence living the way you want to.

I look forward to working with all the experts we have brought together in the taskforce, and putting older people’s voices at the heart of this work.

The Taskforce includes directors from charities like Age UK and the chair of the Home Builders Federation, to local government leaders, CEOs of housing associations and professors on health and long-term care, bringing together independent experts who will help transform housing options for older people.

Led by Professor Emerita of Nursing, Julienne Meyer, the Taskforce will speak to residents and their families about their experiences on issues such as what older people want from their housing as they age, affordability and consumer protection.

Older People’s Housing Taskforce Chair, Professor Julienne Meyer said:

I am excited to be working with such an expert group, and really glad this important work is now getting underway. I’m going to make sure that the voices of older people are heard at the heart of this Task Force. So one of the things I want to focus on immediately is putting people first and Consumer Protection.

We have an ageing population and urgently need to address the lack of supply and quality of older people’s housing. Whilst we want to support older people to live in their own homes for as long as they wish, existing housing stock is unsuitable for many and people are missing out on the health benefits of specialist housing. This needs to change.

The Taskforce will run for up to 12 months, producing an independent report to DLUHC and DHSC.

It will be made up of three subgroups focusing on older people’s priorities, the housing and financial options available, and closely working with local planning authorities to deliver a wide range of opportunities for older generations.

Having campaigned for the Taskforce for several years, the Associated Retirement Community Operators has strongly welcomed this announcement.

Emma O’Shea, chief operating officer at Aster Group said:

We’re pleased to host the inaugural meeting of the Older People’s Housing Taskforce at Grace House, and hope that the visit helps inform and inspire the group when considering how housing can be shaped by those that live there and adapt to their changing needs.

Grace House should be regarded as the blueprint for modern, affordable living for people aged 55 and over and demonstrates what’s possible even in more complex, urban areas. Working with our residents from the old Dora House, who have helped co-design what we see today, we’ve created a sustainable building that can generate its own energy. It is also a building that can accommodate residents’ needs as they change, with accessibility designed into the fundamentals of the building.

The innovations and efficiencies that Grace House provides will help create a healthy, comfortable environment for residents to enjoy as they head towards and live in retirement.

Chief Executive of ARCO, Michael Voges said:

Bringing together different government departments for this Taskforce shows the government is serious about tackling the challenge of older people’s housing.

With ministerial support and Professor Meyer’s leadership, we are confident that the Taskforce will help unlock the investment in new supply that is so urgently needed.

List of taskforce members

  • Chair: Professor Julienne Meyer CBE Professor Emerita of Nursing: Care for Older People; City, University of London
  • Jeremy Porteus FRSA, Chief Executive of the Housing Learning and Improvement Network
  • John Galvin, Chief Executive of the Elderly Accommodation Counsel
  • Caroline Abrahams CBE, Charity Director of Age UK
  • Nick Sanderson, Chief Executive of Audley Group and Chair of the Associated Retirement Community Operators
  • Stewart Baseley, Executive Chair of the Home Builders Federation
  • Geeta Nanda OBE, Chief Executive of Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing
  • Jon Rouse CBE, City Director of Stoke-on-Trent City Council
  • Councillor James Jamieson OBE, Chair of the Local Government Association and a Councillor for Central Bedfordshire
  • Sarah McClinton, President of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services and Director of Health & Adult Services at Royal Borough of Greenwich
  • Kathryn Smith, Chief Executive of the Social Care Institute for Excellence
  • Sunena Stoneham, Chief Operating Officer of LifeCare Residences Limited
  • Rt Hon Damian Green MP, Member of Parliament for Ashford and Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Adult Social Care
  • Professor Les Mayhew, Associate Head of Global Research, International Longevity Centre UK (ILC) and Professor of Statistics at Bayes Business School.
  • Ben Rosewall, Head of Investment, Later Living, Legal & General Capital.
  • Professor Judith Phillips OBE, Deputy Principal (Research) and Professor of Gerontology, University of Stirling
  • Andrew Surgenor, Senior Director (Operational Real Estate – Healthcare) at CBRE
  • Paavan Popat, Chief Executive of TLC Care & Trulocom
    Richard Morton, Managing Director at Richard Morton Architects and Chair of the Retirement Housing Group