Home adaptation - call for proposals
The Government’s Industrial Strategy sets out a number of Grand Challenges intended to put the UK at the forefront of the industries of the future. We’re delighted to see that one of these Challenges is themed around harnessing the power of innovation to help meet the needs of an ageing society, with a mission to ensure that people can enjoy at least 5 extra healthy, independent years of life by 2035, while narrowing the gap between the experience of the richest and poorest.
One of the areas being explored by the Government as part of taking forward the Ageing Society Grand Challenge is about communities and housing, recognizing the link between a suitable living environment and a healthy, active and independent older age. The work can be broadly split into how the current housing stock can be adapted to meet needs and what the housing of the future needs to look like.
As the Local Government Association remarked in responding to a report on Housing for Older People by the Communities and Local Government Committee:
“There is a clear link between housing, health and social care, and this needs to be considered in the Government’s forthcoming social care green paper. Decent, quality housing for older people will include adaptations that enables them to live at home independently and for longer, keeping them fit and well and out of hospital.“
Current housing stock
Adaptations to older people’s homes can enable safer, independent living with dignity.
A recent international review of evidence concerning ageing and home adaptations, published by the Centre for Ageing Better in 2017, identified studies from across the globe which demonstrated the value and impacts of home adaptations, but found no UK studies which met the review’s research standards.
The review found that whilst there is good international evidence that minor home adaptations are an effective intervention e.g. for preventing falls and injuries, improving performance of everyday activities and improving mental health, it found few studies concerning impacts of major adaptations. It also concluded that there is insufficient evidence to quantify the overall return on investment (ROI) from home adaptations.
It concluded that there was a pressing need to deepen the evidence from the UK for how home adaptations can contribute to improving later lives.
“At a time of unprecedented reductions in public expenditure higher standards of evidence are being demanded by commissioners, including demonstrating the cost benefits of even well-established services. A lack of investment in high quality academic research into the housing, health and ageing connections… could put practical housing services at risk. Those most at risk include the very services that older people say they value so highly – help with home adaptations and practical housing repair services…”
Having long-recognised the link between suitable housing and a healthy later life, the Dunhill Medical Trust, which actively seeks to fund important but under-funded topics, made £200,000 available to help contribute to filling this evidence gap. Following a call for proposals in November, 2018, we were delighted to receive some great applications which sought to address filling the evidence gap from a variety of different perspectives. It was hugely difficult to reduce the list to just four and these four shortlisted applicant teams were invited to present their proposals before a live audience and panel at an event on 21 January, 2019. We also heard from a range of speakers outlining the future opportunities and challenges.
Call for proposals
The Dunhill Medical Trust
6 New Bridge Street
London EC4V 6AB