The application has been submitted for a new care home and extra care apartments on Grove Road Wantage, and the retirement apartments on the old Police Station are almost finished.
In Oxfordshire, the numbers of older people are growing rapidly (for example the numbers of people over 85 increased by 10% between 2011 and 2014, and are expected to continue to increase - with the population of those 90+ forecast to more than double between 2015 and 2030.
Government figures show that the number of over 65s will grow rapidly over the next 10 years but that councils are not addressing the range of housing needs.
A recent government paper entitled the “Future of an Ageing Population” states that “Suitable housing can significantly improve life in older age, while unsuitable housing can be the source of multiple problems and costs. Poor quality housing costs the NHS an estimated £2.5 billion per year.”
It goes on to say that improving homes is “likely to be less effective without similar improvements in the neighbourhood. The ability to socialise and to access services are particularly important.”
An ageing population is not the only trend that will affect the demand for homes in the future – social trends will also play an important role as 66% of all people living in one-person households by 2037 will be aged 65 and over.
Although meeting the demand for specialised housing such as retirement apartments and care homes is important, it is likely to remain a relatively small part of the solution. Currently only 7% of older people live in specialised housing.
Evidence suggests that there are substantial numbers of older people who would like to move to smaller homes with easy access to services, but can’t find a suitable property.
If these properties were available then the existing family homes would come back to the market.
Ensuring the suitability of mainstream housing for older people is therefore likely to have a greater impact.
One option would be for inter-generational buildings which include apartments for independent older people and a number of units reserved for younger people who commit to providing services to the elderly community.
The main objectives of this model of apartments are to provide decent low-cost housing and reduce loneliness and social isolation while providing housing and a sense of community engagement for younger people in need.
Perhaps the council should promote this as a way forward to managing future housing need for both young and old?