Building the case for housing as supporting a good old age

Fendt-Newlin et al 2016 Living well in old age-page-001The authors of Living well in old age. The value of UK housing interventions in supporting mental health and wellbeing in later life introduce the report, which is published today.

Housing in later life is more than just a roof or a matter of getting upstairs. Housing-related services can help many people by supporting their mental and physical wellbeing in later life. A newly published review of UK housing interventions focuses on their contribution to mental health in particular since this area of wellbeing often gets overlooked. Housing care and support can help people reduce the risks of depression or other problems getting worse and can make a difference in the lives of people with severe disabilities.

The review was undertaken by a research team at the Social Care Workforce Research Unit at King’s College London. It was commissioned by HACT on behalf of a group of social housing providers and developmental bodies who are keen to place on record the many links between housing, care and health services practice (*). Continue reading

Dementia and ethnicity deepen housing needs

Gearing upThe increasing numbers of older people with dementia and older people from minority ethnic groups in the UK present new challenges for many housing services according to Gearing Up: Housing, Ethnicity and Dementia, a report just published by Age UK. Valerie Lipman and Jill Manthorpe from the Social Care Workforce Research Unit at the Policy Institute at King’s College London examined the ways in which Housing Associations in England and Scotland are preparing themselves for tenants who develop dementia, especially those who are from minority ethnic groups. Continue reading

Four studies in mental health social care

Dr Joan RapaportOn Thursday 8 October the Social Care Workforce Research Unit held its second annual Mental Health Social Care conference, in conjunction with Making Research Count. Joan Rapaport, Visiting Research Fellow at the Unit, was there. (2,275 words)

In her opening comments, Jo Moriarty, Deputy Director of the Social Care Workforce Research Unit, highlighted that the seminar was taking place as part of Mental Health Awareness week and that 10 October is World Mental Health Day. She observed that as well as mental health social workers, delegates from a wide range of organizations, in particular housing, were represented in the audience. This confirmed that adult mental health was not specific to one area of practice. Continue reading

Personal Budgets for adult social care and support: are homeless people eligible?

With the Care Bill entering the report stage in the House of Commons shortly, Michelle Cornes urges us to take part in the debate over what constitutes eligible need in relation to adult social care and support. Dr Cornes is Senior Research Fellow at the Social Care Workforce Research Unit (SCWRU) at King’s College London and recently completed a major ESRC-funded project examining Multiple Exclusion Homelessness. Her work forms part of the Homelessness Research Programme at SCWRU.

As funding for Supporting People services continues to shrink (see Patrick Butler’s article in The Guardian, 12 February 2014) it is timely to revisit the question as to whether homeless people are eligible for publicly funded social care support (e.g. personal budgets secured through adult social care) or personal health budgets. The Care Bill currently going through Parliament heralds some positive changes that may serve to open the door to this funding stream which has, de facto, mainly been closed to homeless people. As the law currently stands ‘homeless people’ are not eligible for support (though ‘homeless people’ with mental health, physical health, and drug and alcohol problems may be). The Care Bill will remove ‘eligible’ and ‘ineligible’ groups so that any adult with any level of need will have a right to an assessment (Department of Health 2013: 1.9).

Under the existing guidance, the purpose of a community care assessment is to assess need in the round. The guidance is clear that needs relating to social inclusion and participation should be seen as just as important as needs relating to personal care (Department of Health 2010: 61). It is perhaps worth noting that housing related support can be purchased using a personal budget from adult social care. In Scotland, 11% of direct payments and self-directed support packages in 2012 encompassed this element (Rosengard et al. 2011).

Once a community care assessment has been carried out, a decision must then be taken by the local authority (on a case-by-case basis) about whether the needs identified are eligible needs. The eligibility framework is graded into four bands which describe the seriousness of the risk to independence or well-being (Department of Health 2010: 54). This considers issues such as the ability to carry out personal care or domestic routines, whether vital involvement in work, education or learning can be sustained and if vital family and other social roles and responsibilities can be undertaken. Risks are banded as low, moderate, substantial and critical with many councils only meeting those needs identified as substantial or above.

Making decisions about which banding to apply and ultimately, who is eligible for a ‘personal budget’ is open to professional interpretation. With increasing austerity, the regulator has taken issue with those local authorities identified as being too restrictive. For example, Michael Mandelstam highlighted a recent case in which a local authority visited a woman at home, assessed her as managing her own personal care and closed the case—having first recorded that she was unkempt, her knickers were around her knees, there was evidence of faeces on the floor and she was not taking her medication (2013: 123).

Evidence from the Multiple Exclusion Homelessness Research Programme (Cornes et al. 2011) and other studies suggests that people who are homeless fare particularly badly in getting their needs banded correctly, often struggling to access an assessment at all. There is evidence that homelessness is written off as ‘lifestyle choice’ or as a housing responsibility, with the ‘substantial’ and ‘critical’ risks posed to well-being ignored or overlooked. The notion that homelessness poses mostly low to moderate risks to well-being is most clearly challenged by the startling statistic that the average age of death of a homeless person is 47 (43 for a homeless woman) as compared to 77 for the general population. The Care Bill (page 2) makes explicit the need to challenge discriminatory practices so that decisions about the individual are made having regard to all the individual’s circumstances and are not based only on the individual’s age or appearance or aspect of the individual’s behaviour which might lead others to make unjustified assumptions.

The problems with the way eligibility criteria are being applied are acknowledged by the Coalition Government. The Care Bill will introduce a national minimum threshold for adult care and support and there are plans to replace the current ‘Fair Access to Care’ (FACS) eligibility criteria in 2015. A new description of what is eligible need will be put forward for consultation in 2014 and a discussion document is already in the public domain (Department of Health 2013). I would urge all those working in the homelessness sector and those interested in challenging social exclusion to respond to this consultation. Without doing so there is the danger that homeless people will continue to be denied the support they are entitled to and, given what we know is happening to Supporting People services, possibly robbed of the little support many already have.

Dr Michelle Cornes is Senior Research Fellow at the Social Care Workforce Research Unit. She recently completed a major study on Multiple Exclusion Homelessness funded by the ESRC. For work on homelessness at the Social Care Workforce Research Unit at King’s see our Homelessness Research Programme pages.

The Social Care Workforce Research Unit is part of the King’s Policy Institute (KPI) at King’s College London. The Institute is involved in the translation of academic research at King’s to the benefit of policy and practice.

References

Butler, P. (2014) If supported housing is cut, we will see more rough sleeping and more crime’. The Guardian, 12 February 2014.

Cornes, M., Joly, L, Manthorpe, J., O’Halloran, S., and Smythe, R. (2011) ‘Working together to address Multiple Exclusion Homelessness’, Social Policy and Society, 10(4): 513-522.

Department of Health (2010) ‘Prioritising need in the context of Putting People First: a whole system approach to eligibility for social care – guidance on eligibility criteria for adult social care, England 2010’, London: Department of Health.

Department of Health (2013) ‘Draft national minimum eligibility threshold for adult care and support. A discussion document’, London: Department of Health

Mandelstam, M. (2013) Safeguarding Adults and the Law. London: Jessica Kingsley.

Rosengard, A., Ridley, J. & Manthorpe, J. (2013) ‘Housing support and personalisation: observations from the Scottish Self-Directed Support test sites’, Housing, Care and Support, 16(3/4): 136-144.

My House or My Home? The challenges of ageing and housing

Joan Rapaport

by Joan Rapaport

Last week (6 February) the Social Care Workforce Research Unit hosted its sixth joint annual conference on the theme of older people. It is organised jointly with Age UK London and Making Research Count and, this year, supported by The British Society for Gerontology. The topic: housing and older people. Speakers included Jill Manthorpe, Vic Rayner, Jeremy Porteus, Simon Evans, Maureen Crane, Louise Joly and Maria Brenton. Joan Rapaport reports.

 

Why the interest in older people’s housing?

Professor Jill Manthorpe (Director, Social Care Workforce Research Unit) highlighted increasing interest in the role of housing and environment on health and wellbeing in later life. She pointed to the sudden (re)discovery of the triangle of health, housing and care contributing to quality later life. Poor housing and environments undermine the potential benefits of social care and technological advances. Depressing environments may foster depression and inaccessible or hazardous environments compound isolation. We have long known that dampness, mould and cold are bad for health; recent research also suggests that loneliness can be as bad as smoking on health. Whilst some commentators accuse older people of stealing the pensions of their younger counterparts and draining health resources, and denying them access to the housing ladder, the idea of a ‘jilted generation’ has scant evidence. If anyone had been jilted it was the generations who were promised ‘homes fit for heroes’ many of whom who spent their old age in cold, disabling and poor housing.

Jeremy Porteus

Jeremy Porteus

Drawing on a recent personal experience, Jeremy Porteus (Director, Housing, Learning and Improvement Network (LIN)) highlighted the problems people face when planning for old age. There is no central ‘Ideal Home Exhibition’ point from which to make the perfect choices, there are psychological barriers to facing the future and a decision may have to be made in a crisis. Although the government is greatly concerned about the ageing population, the Select Committee on Public Service and Demographic Change (Lord Filkin, 2013) found that the housing market is delivering much less specialist housing for older people than is required and that national and local government and housing associations urgently need to make plans. Jeremy commented that if we are to build better homes then we also need to shape communities: making this more just a question of supply and demand.

Jeremy described the benefits deriving from purpose built projects and the emerging evidence base for positive outcomes. As just one example, people who were lonely with high needs had moved into Extra Care accommodation that had been funded by the Department of Health (DH). Within six months to a year many had experienced improvements in their wellbeing, ability to self-care and autonomy, creating savings in health and social care budgets. Extra Care projects are provided in a wide variety of ways including community led housing, cooperatives and cohousing as well as sheltered housing, retirement villages, almshouses and homesharing. Jeremy exhorted conference participants to join Housing LIN to keep abreast of strategic developments and opportunities and service innovations. Housing LIN is the leading ‘learning lab’ for a growing integrated network of housing, health and social care professionals in England involved in planning. As such, it is at the forefront of policy, research and practice developments and is a member of the Prime Minister’s The Dementia Challenge health and care champion group.

Vic Rayner (Chief Executive, SITRA) questioned the source of the ‘drain’ perceptions of older people in society. The evidence shows that contrary to these ‘doom and gloom’ predictions, people living longer lives are an asset to their communities and families, many working as volunteers, providing neighbourly support and helping with childcare responsibilities.

Vic Rayner

Vic Rayner

And the pictures of older people being drains on taxpayers are exaggerated, she observed. Close analysis of available data illustrates that the average annual unit cost of sheltered accommodation is just £311.10 – an amazing bargain! An investment of £198.20 in sheltered accommodation yields a saving of £646.90; of £32.40 in sheltered accommodation for older people with higher needs, savings of £123.40 and older people receiving floating support £97.3 and £628 respectively. Service user objectives of having access to assistive technology, security of tenure, personal security, greater autonomy and contact with family and friends are largely met. Yet supported provision for older people when compared to other population groups, is meager and may now be additionally under threat from local authority budgetary constraints.

‘On the Pulse’ case studies show how good practices in housing and health delivery can achieve good outcomes in:

  • Transferable care packages from housing to hospital and vice versa
  • Supporting re-ablement through telecare
  • Creating solution orientated partnerships across traditional health, social care and housing sectors

Vic highlighted the importance of commissioners’ valuing what matters to service users and including in their audits ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ outcomes, rather than focusing on a set of outputs defined by funders. She endorsed views that deeply ingrained attitudes towards older people needed to change.

Dr Maureen Crane and Dr Louise Joly (Honorary Senior Research Fellow and Research Fellow respectively at the Social Care Workforce Research Unit) drew on their current research on the housing and support needs of older homeless people.

Louise Joly

Louise Joly

Emerging findings from this unique study investigating what has happened to homeless people since they were rehoused five years ago demonstrate the potential problems of withdrawing support. Their research suggests that homelessness amongst people aged over 50 years is increasing, although no accurate figures are available. Homelessness in later life happens for a variety of reasons, such as breakdown in long-term marital or partnership relationships, death of a parent or spouse as well as mental health and substance misuse problems. Some people have poor budgetary skills and become evicted from the former family home. Some have literacy difficulties. While homelessness can be short term, so far nearly half of their research sample had been homeless for more than five years before being rehoused.

In this study, participants were first interviewed six months after they had been rehoused. Most, by far, not surprisingly, were glad to have been rehoused, regarded their accommodation as ‘home’, valued their privacy and control, and felt safe and comfortable. However, almost half were in debt. Significantly, those in sheltered accommodation were less likely to be worried or to mention they felt depressed.

Maureen Crane

Maureen Crane

Five years on about a third were still in their original accommodation. Of the minority who had moved, some had changed to live in more supported accommodation. Of those in their original accommodation, case examples highlighted struggles that had increased once their support workers had been withdrawn. These people were living impoverished, isolated lives. Unrealistically, some with health problems were being required to look for work. Maureen had been unable to interview one individual, in a great state of despair about her finances, until she had helped her to complete an application for welfare benefits. Some of the questions were difficult to understand. The form was 57 pages long and had to be printed: for this the internet café was the only option. The individual, who had relied on friends for money for two months, had to pay £8 from her benefits’ for her application to be printed!

This research is indicating that many older homeless people want permanent accommodation but many require supported or specialist living arrangements. The support needs of homeless people can fluctuate once rehoused and some do not seek help when faced with difficulties. There is currently a lobbying vacuum following the demise of the UK Coalition on Older Homelessness in 2010. Maureen and Louise highlighted the need for a new campaigning group to raise awareness of the particular needs of older homeless people.

Next to present, Dr Simon Evans (Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Health and Society, University of Worcester) asked what Extra Care housing offered older people? Drawing on emerging findings from the ASSET research project (funded by NIHR School for Social Care Research), Simon explained that Extra Care housing covers units for rent, purchase and includes some retirement villages. Extra Care is typically characterized by having facilities that enable social interaction, activities, outside support and the ability to buy in flexible care packages. The model provides many opportunities to meet the diverse needs and circumstances of older people. For example, the characteristics and needs of residents are wide ranging. Schemes may rely on multiple funding sources, multiple partners and multiple commissioning agencies. There is a range of financial and legal considerations such as for rent, or purchase, and charges for service, support and/or care packages. There are many types of building options such as ‘top of the market’ facilities, specific age friendly designed complexes, or converted council tower blocks. The literature on social care and support in housing for older people is meager.

When planning for their ‘ideal home’ consumers may be faced with differing local authority arrangements, the effects of welfare reforms and budgetary constraints, new models of commissioning and different approaches regarding levels of need. Simon explained that agreement on priorities and tendering arrangements with local authorities preoccupy commissioners. Key factors regarding the commissioning of social care in housing include the relationship between the housing and care provider, the building type, layout and location, the facilities on offer, tenure and letting policy and the mix of care needs required by the residents. However, ideas about what facilities are wanted by people with high needs are changing. As one example, meals and restaurants on site are proving popular but they may not meet everyone’s preferences.

Despite these complications, Simon ended by highlighting some of the benefits of extra housing such as:

  • Serving as community hubs for services
  • Supporting couples to stay together (in contrast to traditional models of residential care)
  • Promoting independence
  • Potential for saving money when compared with the costs of care homes.

Concluding the day, Maria Brenton (Project Consultant to Older Women’s Cohousing Company) outlined the concept of cohousing: which essentially aims to combine personal autonomy with community in old age. Maria explained that there are a small number of cohousing schemes emerging in England where people are coming together with the intention of living in a community and a commitment to mutual support. They share values and each agrees to share responsibility for the group as a whole. Each ‘cohousee’ has her or his own accommodation and own front door. The model is well established on the continent but is starting to gain some momentum here.

Maria Brenton, Jill Manthorpe and Simon Evans

Maria Brenton, Jill Manthorpe and Simon Evans

Maria highlighted the potential strengths of cohousing particularly in respect of combatting loneliness ‘which is probably a killer’. As people come together to design, build, develop and manage the project, they get to know each other well. Cohousing offers the prospect of good social contact, opportunities to share skills and the benefits of old fashioned communities with help at hand right next door.

In the UK 14 schemes are in the pipeline. The scheme she is involved in ‘OWCH’ (Older Women’s Housing Cooperative) is likely to be the first of its kind in the country. However, the model is very new to commissioners and cohousing pioneers face many challenges. A shift in perspectives is required.

For social workers and social care practitioners there were several key messages from the day

  • Loneliness is a potential killer – it is important to consider when thinking about outcomes. The contribution of housing and the built environment to contributing to loneliness should be assessed and addressed.
  • Attitudes about ageing and older people need to change and social work can play its part in this by working with older people and their organisations.
  • Extra Care is often cost effective and outcomes are often good; social workers should be familiar with what is on offer and its opportunities.
  • Not providing Extra Care may cost the public purse more so local investment in it could be supported. As well as providing construction jobs, Extra Care offers local work.
  • There is wide variety of supported housing schemes and social workers need a local ‘map’ to know what people might consider or should be confident that there are local information and advice agencies that can provide person-centred services.
  • The potential of older people to design their own schemes has not been realized; social workers can put people in touch with national bodies.
  • The importance of older people engaging in national and local consultations to improve their housing and wellbeing is one that social workers can convey in community development work.

This conference was the 6th annual joint event (CPD certified) held by Making Research Count at the Social Care Workforce Research Unit with Age UK London. This year the conference was supported by the British Society for Gerontology. It was held on 6 February 2014 at Henriette Raphael House, Guy’s Campus, King’s College London.

Dr Joan Rapaport was, until recently, Visiting Research Fellow at the Social Care Workforce Research Unit, King’s College London and is a lay member of the Mental Health Review Tribunal.

Conference photographs: Cliff Chester

For more on the conference (including presentations) go to the Event website.

For your attention:                                                                                                            Gordon Deuchars, Age UK London, stated that the Mayor of London had issued a Public Consultation on a New London Housing Strategy. This also concerns housing for older people. The consultation ends on 17.2.14. Please contribute to this consultation: www.london.gov.uk/priorities/housing-land/consultations/draft-london-housing-strategy  

Is it time to have an ideal home exhibition for the retirement housing sector?

Jeremy Porteus

Jeremy Porteus

Next week sees the 6th Social Care Workforce Research Unit annual joint conference, presented with Making Research Count and Age UK London. This year’s topic: My house or my home? The challenges of ageing and housing. Here, Jeremy Porteus, Director of the Housing Learning and Improvement Network and one of the speakers at the conference, questions whether we pay enough attention to quality and older people’s preferences when we build retirement housing.

The idea might seem vaguely frivolous when the attributes of high-quality specialist housing for older people include such prosaic but vital considerations such as adaptations and access.

But, for all the aspirational frippery that surrounds the annual Earls Court jamboree, it does have the virtue of putting designers, housing developers and builders in touch with their potential clients.

The Ideal Home Show website notes that ‘the main stunning feature of the Ideal Home Show is our fully built show homes’.

Influential documents such as ‘Lifetime Homes, Lifetime Neighbourhoods’ and both the ’HAPPI‘ reports have been important contributions in raising the profile of specialist housing and emphasising quality.

However, so far, much of the resulting discussion has been about quantity and demographic challenges, and virtually exclusively within professional circles. While this has been necessary it is not ideal.

We need to square up to the challenges and move the debate on so that it focuses even more on quality and, most importantly, shapes a conversation that includes the customers—older people.

By engaging with consumers and potential consumers, developers, construction companies, architects and housing, social care and planning professionals can redress the continuing British aversion to specialist retirement communities.

Market research, for example Demos’ recent thinkpiece, shows that well over half of those over 65 actually want to downsize, with around a quarter interested in a retirement property.

We all need to be talking to those ‘interested’ in a retirement property and those older people who want to downsize, but cannot see themselves in a retirement property.

This dialogue needs to highlight the best of specialist housing and the quality and design aspirations set out in projects such as HAPPI. However, it must also involve professionals and the sector listening to what older people want. What I have called a ‘living lab’.

The danger is that one day society will wake up to the fact that we need tens of thousands of retirement housing units. In our rush to meet that demand we may well repeat the mistakes of the post-war housing developments, including those that can be seen in some of the less desirable sheltered housing built in the 1960s and 1970s.

There was much to admire about the scale of ambition in the housing programmes of the three decades after 1945.

We need to match that ambition, but also capture the aspirations of older people by asking them just what would be their ideal home?

Jeremy Porteus is Director of the Housing Learning and Improvement Network and Chair of the Homes and Communities Agency’s Vulnerable and Older People Advisory Group. He speaks at the conference, My house or my home? The challenges of ageing or housing on 6 February. A handful of places are still available. Twitter hashtag for the conference #olderpeople6

Follow Jeremy on Twitter @HousingLIN

Follow the Social Care Workforce Research Unit on Twitter @scwru