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Foundations pilots downsizing support

Pilot projects to support downsizing decisions

It is one of later life’s big decisions: to move or not to move. On the one hand, you may feel very attached to a long-term home, not to mention faintly appalled at the upheaval of relocating, while on the other, you have a niggling internal voice warning that your lovely home is becoming difficult to get around, or is miles from facilities you need regularly.

No wonder many older householders only move when the decision is forced on them by some sort of crisis. And it doesn’t tend to end well.
 
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Inspiration found in North America

Foundations, the national body for Home Improvement Agencies, is looking at ways to help older people decide whether moving home would boost their independence, health and wellbeing.

They have set up two pilot schemes in different parts of England, based on the ‘senior move manager’ approach that has helped to transform the image of downsizing in North America over the last 20 years.

In West Yorkshire, Calderdale Council is to employ a case worker within its Accessible Homes Agency to offer advice to those thinking of moving home. It will enable the council to broaden its work to increase the supply of adapted homes.

WE Care & Repair, a home improvement agency covering four local authority areas in the West of England, will launch an enhanced housing options service for those who either want to move or simply can no longer stay in their current property. It will also introduce an innovative self-help tool designed to give people the information they need to decide whether to adapt their home or move on.

 
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Using Disabled Facilities Grant more flexibly

The pilot areas will take forward a key recommendation from the recent Government-commissioned review of the Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) to use the grant more flexibly.

DFGs are largely used to pay for adaptations to help people stay in their homes but in cases where that isn’t possible, resources can be used to support a move to a suitable property elsewhere.

A survey by Foundations shows that while two-thirds of people over 65 don’t want to move house, one third are only deterred from doing so because of the stress and hassle involved. More than one in 10 (11%) would move if support was available.
 
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Housing Options, Downsizing, Move On Services

Finding new ways to support potential downsizers is explored in a briefing paper published this week by Foundations: ‘Housing Options, Downsizing, Move On Services’.

It highlights the fact that the more choice and control older people can exercise, the better the outcomes in terms of health and wellbeing. It adds: “…conversely we do know that ‘forced’ moves, made because older people can no longer cope in their original home, tend not to have positive outcomes.”

England’s 200 home improvement agencies – based in councils, housing associations and run as stand alone charities – are ideally placed to provide that support because it’s a natural extension of their current work, it argues.

The report concludes:

“There is a genuine opportunity to allow people to consider housing options unforced by a perceived or actual health crisis but based on their aspirations for a fulfilling life in the medium and long-term. There is no reason that people’s last house should be any less exciting than finding their first.”

 
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Paul Smith, Director of Foundations, said:

“More than three-quarters of over 65s are home owners and most want to remain in their homes. But a significant number would consider moving if tailored support was available. Enabling them do just that will ensure more people are living in appropriate accommodation for current and future needs – enhancing their health and wellbeing in the process. I hope these pilot projects will demonstrate how easily move on services can be integrated into existing support.”

 
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So what exactly are Senior Move Managers?

People move home all the time, to pursue their aspirations or just to be closer to friends and family. Amongst older people, however, the number of moves drops dramatically. This situation could be changed by a reframing of the largely negative connotations around housing in later life, and by providing the right advice, information and support which allows people to access a wider range of options than they would without support.

In North America there is a National Association of Senior Move Managers, which provides training, support and registration to a national network of professional services that help people move, downsize or otherwise manage their property.

Senior Move Managers provide services that take the stress, hard work and worry out of relocating in later life, by providing a single point of contact, explaining the practicalities of downsizing and options available.
 
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Further reading and resources

You can download the Foundations report here: ‘Housing Options, Downsizing, Move On Services’ (external link will open in a new browser window)

Lack of choice is one reason for older people not moving house: Rightsizing not downsizing required

We have more information about Disabled Facilities Grant here

Specialist accessible property finder Branch Properties can help find your ideal home
 
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2 Responses to “Foundations pilots downsizing support”

  1. NAOMI DENNIS April 3, 2019 at 9:10 am #

    My city council have come out twice to us. Each time not listening. I have a chair lift to get upstairs to try and have a shower. Which I find very difficult as lifting my legs into the bath causes problems ie can not breathe properly. Each time they give me chair which is ok if you can get into the bath. We did suggest a wet roomz/putting in a cubicle shower which would help me have a shower at the moment I stand in a bucket while my husband does as nedt he can in space we have in the garage for me which is very cold which for someone with COPD is not healthy. Because of panic and anxiety attacks I need to have a seat to sit on in the shower. Ouold bath is a small corner bath so not a lot of space for a seat as they suggested. What can we do. We are under Birmingham city council

    • Frances April 5, 2019 at 11:11 am #

      Well it really does sound as if you should apply for a Disabled Facilities Grant to convert your bathroom so that you have a shower you can use. Having to shower in the garage standing in a bucket is appalling. You say the council has come out twice – does this mean you have tried to get a grant and been turned down? They are means tested, so if you have savings or income over a certain level, you will get a smaller financial contribution from the council, or none at all, but it should still be useful to go through the application process. Contact the housing department at your council, and say that you want to apply for a DFG. They will send an occupational therapist or similar person to visit you at home and see whether it can reasonably be adapted for you.
       
      If this doesn’t help, and you want to email me with more information, you are most welcome. The address is editor@independentliving.co.uk
       

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