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Housing For Older People Must Focus On Community

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

An important book, by University of the West of England researcher Simon Evans, highlighting the vital importance of the social aspects of housing in care settings for older people, will be launched at the 38th Gerontology Conference on 2 September 2009.

Community and ageing: Maintaining quality of life in housing with care settings investigates changing concepts and experiences of community across the life course and into older age and how they play out in housing with care settings.

The book emphasises the central importance of a sense of community for older people's quality of life and explores the impact of a range of factors including social networks, inclusive activities, diversity and the built environment.

Simon Evans comments, “Specialist forms of housing with care are becoming increasingly popular in the United Kingdom, largely as a result of the ageing of the population and the relative wealth of the latest generation of older people. Retirement villages and extra care housing are two models of provision that have seen particularly spectacular growth.

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“This is partly because in many ways they are perceived to promote government agendas for increasing independence and wellbeing for older people. They also aim to meet older people's aspirations for a good quality of life in their retirement years and to live somewhere they feel they belong.

“Many such housing developments are marketed as 'communities of like minded people', that offer security, peace of mind, a range of facilities and new opportunities for friendship and social interaction. However some of these settings can be overly segregated with few addressing the importance of intergenerational contact and the importance to older people of living in communities with a diverse social mix.

“Much can be learned by observing international approaches. In the US for example some developments can be overly regimented with strict rules about visitors. Conversely in Scandinavian countries care housing developments tend to be smaller and better integrated into the wider community.

“I believe that future developments should pay heed to the needs of older people to feel part of an intergenerational community with less age segregation.”

Professor Robin Means, Associate Dean in the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences at UWE said, “This important book successfully pulls together the emergent literature on housing with care for older people and goes on to draw out the key issues for the future.”

The book will be of particular interest to students in the fields of gerontology, social policy, housing, planning, the built environment and community development. It will also appeal to academics, policy makers, practitioners, service providers and researchers, both in the UK and other countries with similar housing with care options, including the USA, Australia and New Zealand.