Opinion

How a fictional town can show how housing with care and support can really be achieved

Rebekah Luff, Senior Research Analyst, and Ewan King, Deputy Chief Executive, the Social Care Institute for Excellence.

Imagine a town called Brookmore. It’s the year 2031 and Brookmore’s an award-winning place to live. Back in 2021 the local authority established a new Housing for Older People Partnership. This saw a number of organisations get together: NHS, local planners, developers, care operators and providers, people with lived experience of care and support, the voluntary sector and local housing associations. They agreed a long-term ten-year strategy for older people’s housing.

This imagined place weaves together best practice and is based on findings from the Commission on the Role of Housing in the Future of Care and Support. In November, our report, ‘A place we can call home’, set out a vision and a roadmap for improving options for older adults when it comes to housing with care and support. We included care homes, housing with care, housing with support, Shared Lives, and some forms of community-led housing, such as co-housing.

We are pleased to see that much of the recommendations set out in our report have been adopted by the new Social Care White Paper which wants to see local strategic partnerships working together on housing and investment in diversity and choice in specialist housing.

In Brookmore, events were held across the town, to develop the strategy with older adults and involving people from all backgrounds including people with learning disabilities, people from LGBTQ+ and BAME communities. The central aim is that if the people of Brookmore need, or wish to, move from their original homes, a good choice of housing and support options are available so people are not simply ‘placed’ in one-size-fits-all accommodation.

David, a 66-year-old man with a learning disability, describes how his life was transformed when he moved into one of these new supported living houses in 2028. He’d been living in and out of hospital and residential care; now he lives in a small block of flats with 24 hour support. He says: “I definitely prefer this as my home. Everything is close by and I’ve settled in. I get on with the neighbours and have started making new friends. I have choice now – with meals, what I do and when and buy what I want. At the hospital everyone was in bed by 10pm. Now, if I can’t sleep and want to chat to someone, I can go and see a friend in the living room”.

The area now has all sorts of benefits from this approach, from lower waiting times for older people to be housed in a property of their choice, to reduced rates of referrals from residential care into hospitals; and from high levels of public satisfaction with social care and housing.

Challenges

Of course, Brookmore is a fictional place, and its strategy had to overcome a number of challenges as highlighted in our report. There is a low level of public understanding of the options available and people struggle to navigate the system. There’s also a great deal of public concern about the cost of housing options. People find the finances hard to understand and are concerned they are not getting value for money. There’s a lack of local, personalised and inclusive information, advice and advocacy. Most importantly, the voices of older people and their carers are not consistently heard or listened to in policy, planning or delivery of housing with care and support. And vitally, more money is needed to invest in new housing stock.

How could local plans help?

Currently, the quality of local planning for housing with care and support for older adults is really mixed. The Commission recommends that the Government strongly incentivise and support the development of local plans with a new fund that can be used for any types of housing with care and support if a local plan is in place; something we are pleased the latest White Paper talks about. Central to any local plan is the adoption of Seven Principles of Excellence that should apply no matter what the setting:

  1. Person centred and outcome focused
  2. Community connectedness
  3. Strong leadership, culture and workforce
  4. Adopting innovation
  5. Enabling choice and control
  6. Promoting equality
  7. Co-production and shared decision-making.

These principles are by no means unreachable. They are already happening across the country, in places that aren’t just imagined like Brookmore. The Commission identified 50 examples of providers and services that already demonstrate these principles across a wide range of services. Our roadmap sets out a national and local plan so that Brookmore can be a reality across the country so that older adults have a real choice of housing with care and support, that suits their own preferences and needs, wherever they live.

Our roadmap sets out a national and local plan so that Brookmore can be a reality across the country, to ensure that older adults have a real choice of housing with care and support, that suits their own preferences and needs, wherever they live.

Read more about these examples and the commission at https://www.scie.org.uk/housing/role-of-housing

 

Edel Harris

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