Improving Housing Information, Advice and Services for Older People

The Challenge

Both France and the UK are facing the challenge of an ageing population. With older people living longer, we need to identify solutions to the demand this demographic shift places on our health and social care services, notably in terms of suitable housing provisions. Dr. Sarah Hillcoat-Nallétamby, in collaboration with French research and government institutions co-led a study about how the UK and France are trying to manage these challenges, and what lessons can be learnt from a comparative perspective.  

Elderly People Walking

The Method

The project compared evidence from both the UK and France about policy initiatives, housing design and service developments relating to the needs of an ageing population. The provision of housing adaptions as a way of allowing older people to live more lives that are independent was central to the research. 

Focusing on the UK, Dr. Hillcoat-Nallétamby completed data collection and analysis using secondary data sources and original qualitative interviews with key stakeholders completed as part of the study. This work provided the baseline for a comparative analysis of the context within France.  

Overall, analysis showed that the UK had been quicker to recognise the housing implications of an ageing population. This was evidenced through policy initiatives aimed at developing and improving housing design principles, coupled with innovative and easily accessible information services to promote older people’s knowledge and decision-making about their independent living options. 

The Impact

The study was used in France to inform:

  • French government policy on housing needs and independent living for its ageing population.
  • Legislative reform to ensure policy implementation (Parliamentary Bill and statutory law) and service restructuring so that older people can benefit from improved access to information and advice about independent living services (e.g. housing adaptations, social security benefits, specialist housing)
Elderly Man on PC

In France, this has led to:

  • Restructured local-level services across 1 in 5 French départements, pivoted around “information hubs” (e.g. telephone, online and local-level, in-person services) which provide simple and accessible information, advice and needs assessments services for older people and those living with disabilities
  • A national service portal enabling better access to information and services with over 250,000 visits per month and the vast majority satisfied with the information provided
  • Localised evidence of improved wellbeing for service providers and users.

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

Swansea University Research Themes