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Providing older people with care and their own front door - how is housing with support perceived?

Researchers: HRB Evidence Centre

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The problem

Housing with support aims to enable older people to age with dignity, independence and their own front door. It provides them with care services and support in purpose-built, non-institutional accommodation. But for it to work, we need to know what people think about it, and what impact it could have on their lives.

The project

The Department of Health and the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage commissioned an evidence review, arising from the Joint Policy Statement ‘Housing Options for our Ageing Population’. Researchers at the HRB Evidence Centre analysed 75 papers on housing with support across 10 countries (including the USA, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the UK and several European countries) to explore older people's perceptions and impacts of housing with support.

The evidence review found that:
  • Older people transitioned to housing with support more successfully if they had choice about where they went and the type of accommodation to which they moved
  • It is important to recognise the emotional impact of moving to new accommodation, particularly if meaningful objects can’t be moved too
  • It is easier for older people to move to housing with support if they can maintain their existing social networks and their familiar community services
  • Having opportunities to socialise as much as possible in a vibrant community with enjoyable activities (such as gardening, dinner clubs, and cafes) help to promote successful transition to housing with support. 

Olivia Cagney, HRB Evidence Centre, says:

“In Ireland, we often rely on nursing homes to support older people as they require more care and services. We wanted to look at a different experience, one where the older person lives more independently and has their own front door, but is in purpose-built accommodation and small communities where services are provided. By learning more about the perceptions and impacts of housing with support in other countries around the world, we have gathered important evidence that can inform the expansion of this kind of accommodation for older people in Ireland.”

Welcoming the publication of this HRB evidence review, Mary Butler, TD, Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People, said:

"We all want opportunities to live full and meaningful lives on our own terms. A key principle underpinning government policy is to support older people to live independently in their own homes and communities. The findings of this evidence review will feed into the government’s work in this area. By understanding the perceptions of older people themselves, we can reflect their preferences in future policies – helping shape housing models that meet their needs. Older people must have choice when it comes to housing options. Having a say on where they live and who they live with should be at the heart of any housing policy for older people."

Read Housing with support for older people, an evidence review.

Read our blog on housing with support

'Providing older people with care and their own front door - how is housing with support perceived? ', is part of a wider collection of success stories across four themes from this year's annual Health Research in Action. Download the full publication