The Housing LIN worked with Your Homes Newcastle to develop an evidence base in relation to the future requirements and expectations of older people for housing and support services.
- Analysis of secondary data to understand the implications of an increasing older population for YHN and its service provision.
- Direct research with older people, current and potential customers, to understand the range of housing and support services they are seeking from YHN.
Based on this evidence and examples of good practice from elsewhere in the UK, YHN with the Housing LIN has developed a new customer service ‘wellbeing’ model for older people that is applicable to older people irrespective of the type of YHN property they live in.
To provide contemporary housing and support services for older people in the context of a growing ageing population with higher expectations in terms of the quality and range of housing and support services.
- The proportion and absolute number of older people as part of the population of Newcastle is set to increase substantially, especially among the oldest (85+) cohort.
- The demographic profile in Newcastle indicates increasing demand for housing and support services tailored to a growing and more diverse older population.
- YHN can expect to be providing housing and services to more people with mobility issues and more people requiring care
- The prevalence of older people living with dementia is also set to increase, which is likely to mean that YHN will have an increasing proportion of its older tenants, in age designated housing and in general needs housing, who will be living with dementia.
- A strong theme arising from research with local older people is the desire for greater staff presence. More staff involvement would enable residents to feel more safe and secure as well as mitigating feelings of social isolation and loneliness.
- People said that the social aspects of housing for older people and the provision of and/or facilitation of social and community activities is an attraction for many older people.
- Older people require more personalised information and advice about different housing options and support options.
YHN and its partners are establishing a clearer degree of differentiation of the housing and support service offer/s for older people, including:
- ‘Independent living’ offer: Age-designated housing offer aimed at more independent older people, focus is on a high quality, attractive housing offer with no or minimal additional services and no/minimal communal space, with commensurately low service charges.
- ‘Housing with support’ offer: A housing and services offer with focus on a high-quality housing offer with additional ‘wellbeing’ services with a visible staff presence to provide a greater sense of safety and security, access to practical assistance and support and a role that facilitates social engagement and a ‘sense of community’.
- ‘Housing with care’ offer: A high quality housing offer, extensive communal facilities and services and 24/7 on site staff (care) presence. Includes a high/complex care housing with care model aimed at supporting people living with dementia.
The majority of its older customers live in its general needs housing stock; YHN is also extending its older people’s support service offer to people living in its general needs properties as well as to people living in age-designated housing.
YHN is broadening its service offer for older customers to have a focus on resident ‘wellbeing’ which includes tenancy support but has a more holistic approach to enabling residents to remain independent, and is consistent with its strategy of Make Living Easier. This consists of:
- Tenancy sustainment
- Wellbeing checks
- Practical support
- Facilitating social and community life
- Housing and health services
How is the new approach being sustained?
The new service customer service model for older people is being rolled out through a restructuring of the existing service, including changes in staff roles.
The YHN Housing Plus service has been established to deliver the new service model for older customers.
The learning for local authorities and housing providers includes:
- Understanding the implications of the changing needs of an ageing population
- The importance of undertaking direct qualitative research with current and potential customers to understand what mix of housing and services they are seeking
- Recognising that the older population is becoming increasingly diverse, both in terms of age range and of needs and requirements: a ‘one size fits all’ approach will not be successful.
- The necessity of providing a service offer to older people irrespective of whether they live in designated housing for older people or in general needs housing
Helen Sammut-Smith, Your Homes Newcastle
Ian Copeman, Housing LIN