PICTURE CAPTION – BACK ROW LEFT TO RIGHT:                Mike Morgan, Jeremy Porteous, Andy Chaplin
Narrative Integrated Communications

Member Article

Impact of an ageing population


Senior health, local authority, voluntary and housing professionals in Northumberland heard from national experts about the ageing population and the impact this will have on housing and health needs in Northumberland and how the lives of older people in the county can be improved.

Hosted by affordable homes provider Four Housing, the Ageing Better at Home in Northumberland conference attracted more than 50 delegates who debated key issues on ageing, including the valuable role of low level interventions in people’s homes such as Handyperson services, joining up housing and health’s efforts to improve independence in older age and the risk of isolation and loneliness in later life.

Held at Northumberland County Hall in Morpeth, the event chaired by Four Housing Chairman, Bill Worth , included keynote speeches from Jeremy Porteus, Director of the Housing Learning and Improvement Network; Andy Chaplin, Director of Foundations, the national organisaton for Home Improvement Agency and Handyperson services, Mike Morgan, Business Development Manager from the Newcastle University Institute for Ageing and Madeleine Elliott, Years Ahead, North East Forum on Ageing.

Britain’s ageing demographic is a national issue but it is more acutely felt in rural Northumberland, where the proportion of people over 60 is higher than the UK average. Some of them have taken advantage of Four Housing’s Care and Repair Handyperson Service, which has provided more than 12000 small-scale repairs and adaptations on properties in Northumberland in the last year. Over 89% of work delivered is to people aged over 60 years, with 50% being 80 years or over.

Services range from telecare equipment installations such as battery replacements, flashing smoke detectors and door bells for people with sensory impairments, to Installing grab rails and step adaptations. The Handyperson Service also carries out work which helps prevent slips, trips and falls through to fitting rails in the garden and changing light bulbs.

Bill Worth said: “Housing and health professionals, policymakers and Government agencies need to come together and take an integrated approach to address the issue of ageing in Northumberland.

“Across the country around 1.5m older people have a medical condition or disability that requires specially adapted accommodation and that number looks set to rise as the population increases. Research shows that investment in affordable mainstream and specialist housing produces health benefits and lessens the burden on the national healthcare system.”

Jeremy Porteus said: “The fabric of what’s really important is to have people living independently in their own homes for longer. To achieve this we need better specialist provision, including handyperson services and home improvement agencies, to prevent older people from having to go into care homes or hospital in a crisis. It’s not just common sense, we now have the evidence that this not only delivers improved outcomes for older people but also reduces demand on more costly interventions.”

Mike Morgan added: “Studies show that social isolation is as important a risk factor in early death rates as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. We need more innovation in the development of new technologies and services to support older people so that they can remain socially active for longer. If we can achieve this, we will be able to help stave off the effects of conditions such as dementia, which costs the country more than £26bn a year. Additionally organisations that develop these solutions will help create jobs and economic growth.”

For more information about Four Housing, visit: http://www.fourhousing.co.uk/

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Narrative Integrated Communications .

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