We want older people in Scotland to enjoy full and positive lives in homes that meet their needs.
We will take a person centred approach to achieving our aim of older people enjoying full and positive lives, in a home that meets their needs. This allows individuals to have their say about what they want from their home; the size, location, community, technology, access to transport and the many individual requests that make their home ideal for them.
We have identified three Principles that will help to achieve this vision:
- Right Advice
- Right Home
- Right Support
Advice services can play an important role in helping people understand their rights and to find solutions to a range of issues. We want to help older people continue to live safely and independently at home. Access to the right information and advice at the right time ensures people can make an informed choice about the type of home they live in now and in the future.
Good information also allows people to decide what care and support would suit their own individual situation. Many people have their own network of family and friends to turn to when they need advice but this is not always the case. It is important to offer independent advice services at the right time and in the right format to help support people making important decisions, such as whether to move home, seek extra support or install housing adaptations.
Whether the person seeking advice is an older person or their representative, we believe that awareness can be increased through the availability of high quality, accessible information and advice services. We recognise that local and national information services are needed. Both are extremely useful and serve different purposes, providing the individual with choice and tailored options. There are many excellent advice services in Scotland, but the volume and variety can confuse and deter people from taking that initial step. While many services are intended specifically for older people, more can be done to ensure these reach the people they were intended to help. We believe that putting the person at the centre and asking what they want, will help us understand the best way to provide the information in the right format and in the right place to allow older people, their families and carers to access advice on housing and support.
The Scottish Government is committed to supporting projects that provide timely, high quality advice to those in need. Local authorities are best placed to fund advice services that meet the demands of their local area. Scottish Government is also working to improve the standard of information and advice provision throughout Scotland by developing and promoting the Scottish National Standards for Information and Advice Providers.
Making sure everyone has a safe, warm affordable home is central to this Government’s drive to make this country fairer and more prosperous. As people get older their circumstances may change and they may have to consider if their home still meets their needs and can enable them to continue to live independently. Deciding whether or not their current home is the right home is not easy and it helps to have as much information as possible.
The majority of older people own their own homes, but there are also many who live in social housing plus small, but increasing numbers privately renting. There can be confusion over the names for different types of housing for older people, such as amenity, retirement, sheltered, very sheltered and housing with care.
We therefore need to make sure that there is sufficient and suitable advice on housing options to let people know what is available, such as different tenure choices, co-housing, home-sharing, mortgages specifically for older people or shared equity options.
We recognise that many older people want to stay in their own home and it is important that existing properties suit the needs of the individual. Adaptations, digital technology and technology enabled care solutions are just a few of the measures that can help maintain independence, enabling older people to stay in their home. However, in some cases this will not be possible and the right decision may be to move. We want to make sure that individuals have access to all the information on the various housing options available and are supported to make decisions that suit their needs.
The right support can be the key to enabling people to remain independently at home and, in most cases, at costs lower than the alternative residential care options. Local authorities and housing associations have a long tradition of providing low level, preventative support services such as housing support, telecare, handyperson services, Care and Repair and community support.
Technology, including telecare services, can provide significant benefits for older people and carers to help support and maintain independence and wellbeing. Technology can help provide care but also provides additional benefits, e.g. reducing isolation and loneliness. Providing the skills and support to enable older people to use digital tools and technologies, which allow them access services online, engage with social media and connect with friends and families, can have a positive impact on wellbeing.
Staff training and raising awareness are key elements to ensuring that older people are receiving the right support for their specific needs. There is evidence, in particular the Christie Commission report, which advocates a focus on prevention. Investment in services which support older people to remain independent, can make a big difference to quality of life, as well as being cost-effective. Support can come in many forms; from family and friends, as well as structured support services.
A supportive local community, particularly in rural areas and the islands, can be equally as important in supporting older people. Community networks can have a significant positive impact on tackling isolation and loneliness and improving overall wellbeing. Older people are an asset to their communities and they should feel empowered to take action and be heard on priorities that matter to them in the community in which they live.