Calderdale is one of two areas to test out new ways to help older people decide whether moving home would boost their independence, health and wellbeing.
The projects, set up by Foundations and funded by Taylor Wimpey via Foundations Independent Living Trust, are based on the ‘senior move manager’ approach that has helped to transform the image of downsizing in North America over the last 20 years.
It comes as a survey by Foundations – the Government-funded national body for home improvement agencies – shows a third of older people are put off from moving due to the perceived stress involved, but more than one in 10 (11 per cent) would move if support was available.
Calderdale Council is to employ a case worker within its Accessible Homes Agency to offer advice to those thinking of moving home. It will enable the council to broaden its work to increase the supply of adapted homes.
WE Care & Repair, a home improvement agency covering four local authority areas in the West of England, will launch an enhanced housing options service for those who either want to move or simply can no longer stay in their current property. It will also introduce an innovative self-help tool designed to give people the information they need to decide whether to adapt their home or move on.
The pilot areas will take forward a key recommendation from the recent Government-commissioned review of the Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) to use the grant more flexibly. DFGs are largely used to pay for adaptations to help people stay in their homes but in cases where that’s not possible, resources can be used to support a move to a suitable property elsewhere.
Finding new ways to support potential downsizers is explored in a briefing paper published this week by Foundations: ‘Housing Options, Downsizing, Move On Services’. It highlights the fact that the more choice and control older people can exercise, the better the outcomes in terms of health and wellbeing. It adds: “…conversely we do know that ‘forced’ moves, made because older people can no longer cope in their original home, tend not to have positive outcomes.”
England’s 200 home improvement agencies – based in councils, housing associations and run as stand alone charities – are ideally placed to provide that support because it’s a natural extension of their current work, it argues.
The report concludes: “There is a genuine opportunity to allow people to consider housing options unforced by a perceived or actual health crisis but based on their aspirations for a fulfilling life in the medium and long-term. There is no reason that people’s last house should be any less exciting than finding their first.”
Paul Smith, Director of Foundations, said: “More than three-quarters of over 65s are home owners and most want to remain in their homes. But a significant number would consider moving if tailored support was available. Enabling them do just that will ensure more people are living in appropriate accommodation for current and future needs – enhancing their health and wellbeing in the process. I hope these pilot projects will demonstrate how easily move on services can be integrated into existing support.”
Chris Sneddon, Project Co-ordinator at Calderdale Council’s Accessible Homes Agency, said: “We are pleased to be able to work with Foundations on this project, as being able to offer our customers the opportunity of relocating has been an important part of our work in the Accessible Homes Agency for some time.
"As well as assisting with providing cost savings on adaptations, it allows the Agency to give our customers a greater choice in how we provide an accessible and desirable home. This work also allows our customers to look to finding a home with the advantage of planning for the future long term.
"This project will allow our customers to be involved in designing the future processes of relocating and ensuring we get it right.”
Kevin Snowball, Chief Executive of WE Care & Repair, said: “We’re delighted to receive grant funding for the Foundations Independent Living Trust Move On service, which will enable us to re-establish our enhanced housing options service and to introduce an innovative self-help tool to increase the reach and legacy of this important service.”