Strengthening the evidence base for older people’s housing services: the Catch 22 Evidence Project

96% of older households live in mainstream housing, and most older people say they would like to remain in their home as they age. Despite this, there has been a critical lack of investment in research to measure the impacts of good-quality, accessible housing on older people and the health and care services that support them. The Dunhill Medical Trust is therefore contributing funding to support Care & Repair England’s Catch 22 project, which aims to fill in the knowledge gaps in this area and make it easier for housing service providers to evidence the importance of their work.  

A ‘Catch 22’ situation
In an era of major cuts to public expenditure, providers of home repair and adaptation services for older people often find themselves in a ‘Catch 22’ situation:

  • They are increasingly required to provide evidence of the impacts of their services, particularly in terms of cost benefits and savings
  • However, little academic research has been carried out in this area, making it hard to provide this evidence
  • As a result, these housing services risk being decommissioned or having their funding reduced, further diminishing the opportunity to develop the evidence base

It’s a vicious cycle, and one that could continue to get worse without targeted action.

Filling in the knowledge gaps
Care & Repair England was founded in 1986 to improve the homes and lives of older people through innovating, developing, promoting and supporting practical housing initiatives. Its Catch 22 project was launched in 2014 and set out to enable and support compelling research into the benefits of housing interventions – particularly those arising from repairs and alterations – and promote the use of the resulting evidence to improve policy, practice and commissioning. This includes research into the benefits of these interventions on older people, but also on the organisations and services that support them. The overall objective? A better housed population of older people, with improved quality of life.

Since its inception, the research and evidence resulting from the project has raised awareness of the value of repairing and altering older people’s homes and helped secure new or continued funding for housing services, both at a local and national level. As of March 2020, the £195,000 invested in the project had leveraged over £900,000 of additional funding to further develop the evidence base. This included £200,000 from DMT to fund two research projects into the impacts of home adaptation. To read more about the research supported by Catch 22 and the publications and impacts arising from this, visit the project website.

Catch 22 is making an important contribution to filling in the recognised evidence gaps in this area, but there is much more work to be done. That’s why we’re delighted to be supporting the project with a contribution of £50,000 over the next two years, to enable the continued growth of the evidence base for this important but under-funded topic – and, ultimately, the use of this evidence to improve the lives of older people.