General Election Series: Safe at home

Photo credit: Diana Parkhouse (Flickr Creative Commons)
Photo credit: Diana Parkhouse (Flickr Creative Commons)

This week’s blog from our General Election Series highlights why everyone in later life should feel safe, comfortable and secure at home. 

A decent and comfortable home environment is important to all of us, but it’s especially important as we age. Older people can be particularly vulnerable to the effects of the cold, damp and hazardous housing conditions. It’s estimated that poor housing costs the NHS £600m every year, with a total cost to society of up to £1.5bn. That’s why Age UK is calling for a comprehensive joined up programme to improve home conditions for older people and new affordable ‘lifetime’ homes built to higher accessibility and energy efficiency standards.

Helping people make adaptations

Many older people need help and advice to repair, adapt or modify their homes. Home improvement agencies and handy person services continue to play a key role in offering practical assistance and can identify the resources needed to pay for work. Yet in recent years these services have been cut back, despite widespread cross party agreement on the essential role they play. Continue reading “General Election Series: Safe at home”

Can we improve the quality of new homes for future generations?

The Government has now released its long-awaited consultation paper on building standards. So far the press have mainly focused on space standards, rather than the implications for accessibility. The Government’s review considers several options to make progress, while recognising the challenges of a rapidly ageing society. The main proposal on accessibility is to establish three levels for building standards to take account of differences in local housing need. At the moment, Part M of the building regulations determines the ‘visitabilty’ of new homes. This covers areas such as level step free entrance and floor, and having a downstairs loo. The Government propose that this should remain a baseline standard that applies to all housing.

At the same time they suggest, as one option, an ‘intermediate’ second level standard that could be based on the lifetime homes standard and a third level for specialist wheelchair accessible housing. This would mean that the number of homes built to either the prescribed ‘lifetime homes’ or wheelchair access levels 440x210-woman-leaning-on-fireplacewould be determined by projected local demand, following a local authority’s assessment.  While giving local authorities flexibility it would establish a consistent standard at each of the suggested levels to reduce the cost and complexity of the variety of different local requirements, which are applied at the moment. Continue reading “Can we improve the quality of new homes for future generations?”