Older people in England living in poor housing are more likely to experience early onset of long-term care needs, according to new research from LSE.
The paper, "Early onset of care needs in the older population: the protective role of housing conditions", considers privately-owned, rented and social housing in a study of 8,000 adults aged 50 years or older living in England. The study includes the analysis of information on care needs, formal and informal care services received, and housing-related information, as well as socio-demographic characteristics of individuals and area deprivation levels.
Researchers found that:
- Those living in poor housing are more likely to experience early onset of care needs. Researchers found that poor housing conditions do not appear in isolation. The evidence revealed that condensation issues were present in combination with damp and low temperatures, and are associated with earlier onset of care needs.
- People privately renting or in social housing are more likely to have an early onset of care needs. Those living in privately rented accommodation have a 32 per cent increased chance of developing care needs compared to those living in their own home; those in social housing have a 59 per cent increased chance.
- The combination of housing conditions may have an effect on when care needs start to develop. Those living with a larger number of problems in their accommodation (for example, damp, condensation, cold, roof issues, etc) have a 21 per cent increased risk of presenting an earlier onset of care needs.
- Improving housing quality offers an opportunity to prevent the development of care needs. Lack of suitable housing means people are moving to residential care prematurely or staying in hospital unnecessarily rather than recovering in their own home.
Dr Javiera Cartagena Farías, Research Fellow at the Care Policy and Evaluation Centre (CPEC) and lead author of the paper, said: “This paper shows that housing conditions may play a role in preventing long-term care needs for older people. Facilitating ageing in place has meant helping older people to remain in their homes, but it is important to highlight that quality housing cannot be taken for granted.”