Most older people wish to live in their own homes as they age and to have choice over their housing and care situation. Housing, including non-specialist housing, has the potential to play a key role in promoting independence, delaying and/or preventing onset of care needs and in influencing the level and type of care provision required. However, one in ten people aged 55+ in England live in homes with at least one serious hazard; a majority of homes for this age group do not have key accessibility features such as level access; and a fifth are either not found to be in a reasonable state of repair, or able to provide a reasonable degree of thermal comfort. There is also substantial inequality in patterns of care needs and of housing quality.
Our study focuses on older people living in non-specialist housing in England, and aims to:
i) identify the latent structure of housing characteristics;
ii) investigate the association between housing factors and onset and level of care needs;
For this, we used four waves of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA), a large representative longitudinal sample of people aged 55 or over, covering the period 2012 to 2018. We performed Latent Class Analysis, survival models and random effect models to provide answers to our research questions.
We found three typologies of non-specialist housing; a group of people living in bigger houses with fewer housing issues and mostly owner-occupied; a group of people living in medium sized houses, with some problems related to damp; and a group which clustered those living in houses in decay, with several housing problems such as condensation and rat infestation, with a large proportion of them being privately rented or social housing. We also found that people living in poor housing conditions or living in social rented housing are more likely to experience early onset and a higher level of care needs, which may lead to a higher demand for, and utilisation of, long-term care services.
We believe that gaining a better understanding of the relationship between housing-related factors and care needs is paramount from the preventive and service provision point of view, and relevant to policy-makers, practitioners, adult social care users and potential users.