Representatives from various organisations joined housing professionals for an Ageing Better at Home in Northumberland conference.
More than 50 delegates, including people from the county council, health bodies and the voluntary sector in Northumberland, attended the event at County Hall in Morpeth. It was hosted by affordable homes provider Four Housing.
They debated key issues on ageing such as the valuable role of low level interventions in people’s homes such as handyperson services, joining up the housing and health sectors’ efforts to improve independence in older age and the risk of isolation and loneliness in later life.
There were keynote speeches from Jeremy Porteus, director of the Housing Learning and Improvement Network, Andy Chaplin, director of Foundations – the national organisation for Home Improvement Agency and Handyperson Services, Mike Morgan, business development manager from Newcastle University’s Institute for Ageing and Madeleine Elliott, representing Years Ahead – the North East Forum on Ageing.
Britain’s ageing demographic is a national issue but it is more acutely felt in rural Northumberland, where the proportion of people over 60 is higher than the UK average.
Some of them have taken advantage of Four Housing’s Care and Repair Handyperson Service, which has provided more than 12,000 small-scale repairs and adaptations on properties in Northumberland in the last year.
Four Housing chairman Bill Worth said: “Housing and health professionals, policy makers and Government agencies need to come together and take an integrated approach to address the issue of ageing in Northumberland.
“Across the country, around 1.5million older people have a medical condition or disability that requires specially adapted accommodation and that number looks set to rise as the population increases.
“Research shows that investment in affordable mainstream and specialist housing produces health benefits and lessens the burden on the national healthcare system.”