Hampshire County Council is championing Extra Care Assisted Living as part of the solution to the care and housing crises the country is facing.
Councillor Anna McNair Scott, Executive Member for Adult Social Care said: "Extra Care can provide the perfect solution for older people who wish to downsize. At the same time it will help to free up family housing: this can only be a good thing for young people trying to find and buy their own home."
Her comments follow a recent report from the think tank Demos which said older people who want to downsize should be helped to do so "freeing up billions of pounds of housing stock."
House prices are increasing and mortgages are still hard to come by, sparking fears of a new housing crisis. This is fuelled by a lack of supply and means many young first time buyers are finding themselves priced out of the market especially in the South East.
At the other end of the spectrum, 58% of the 1,500 people aged over 60 in the Demos survey, said they were interested in moving but felt restricted by a lack of suitable housing or a fear of moving to an unfamiliar environment. The research funded by the Home Builders Federation, shows there is a big shortage of new properties for older people wishing to down-size, and those needing more care and support.
The increasing older population is placing greater demands on the country's care system, which needs to be modernised if it is to continue to meet the care needs of older people now and in the future.
Hampshire County Council is investing £45 million to stimulate the Extra Care Assisted Living market which offers housing with 24 hour care and support on site. This modern form of care and housing provides people with their own individual apartment coupled with access to communal and shared space in high quality, attractive buildings close to local facilities. Schemes include both one and two bed units to enable couples with differing levels of need to remain living together.
The twenty-four hour care and support available on-site can be used progressively by people as their needs increase, delaying or avoiding early or unnecessary entry to residential care alternatives. It is also more cost effective than residential care, as people meet their own housing costs or are supported through funding such as housing benefit.
240 new units have already been provided in Fleet, Andover, Basingstoke and Gosport and there are projects currently being developed or in the in the pipeline in Farnborough, Winchester, Havant and Eastleigh. A number of existing sheltered housing schemes have also been enhanced to Extra Care standards providing an additional 457 units.
Councillor Anna McNair Scott, Executive Member for Adult Social Care said: "With both the adult care system and housing market under pressure Extra Care Assisted Living offers a win-win solution."
"Extra Care is a key part of the Council's approach to transforming social care to better meet the needs and aspirations of older people in a cost effective and sustainable way. It offers clear benefits including the provision of preventative and well-being services to increase independence, and opportunities to meet new friends and become part of a vibrant community."
Pearl moved into Newman Court Extra Care Assisted Living complex in July 2013. Prior to moving she lived locally in a three bed house which she had shared with her husband. She felt lonely and increasingly isolated after he died. "I was living on my own and it sometimes felt like the walls were closing in on me. I wasn' thinking about moving but I saw they had an open day and only came to be nosy. They showed me round and I thought this will do for me. My daughter also came to see it and went wow so I signed on the dotted line there and then and it's the best thing I've done."