Education And Debate

Caring for Older People: Homes and Housing for Elderly People

BMJ 1996; 313 doi: (Published 27 July 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;313:218
  1. P Wanklyn, senior registrar in elderly care
  1. a Leeds General Infirmary, Leeds LS1 3EX

    Most elderly people in Britain live independently in their own homes. Moving to alternative accommodation may be necessary for some people but requires careful consideration. A multidisciplinary assessment should be performed when a person plans to move into residential care; this should include the input of a doctor trained in geriatric medicine. A range of housing options is open to elderly people and these options are discussed here.

    Most elderly people in Britain live independently in private or rented accommodation. However, more of the “oldest old” people live in residential care or long stay hospitals (29% of people aged over 85 compared with only 1.1% of those aged 65-74).1 As the proportion of oldest old people rises, the provision of appropriate housing will become increasingly important.

    A recent housing survey found that 10% of people aged over 65 were living in the worst housing category. Although this is the same proportion as in the general population, it represents around 700 000 households.2


    Home repairs may be overlooked by some elderly people, and housing grants are given least frequently to people aged over 75. Elderly home owners can get advice about repairs or adaptations from several sources.

    Housing agency services (sometimes called “Care and Repair” or “Staying Put”) give practical advice to older home owners on arranging surveys and grant applications, obtaining estimates, and monitoring work as it is procedes. Although these agencies are non-profit making, a charge may be made; this charge can be included in the grant or loan application.

    Citizen's Advice Bureaux and the renovation grants section of the local council also provide information on ways to get help with paying for repairs and improvements.

    If adaptations are needed because of disability, the local social services department will arrange an assessment by a community occupational therapist. …

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