Age, home and community: a strategy for housing for Scotland's older people 2012-2021

A strategy for providing housing and housing-related support for older people in Scotland.


Older people in Scotland are valued as an asset, their voices are heard, and older people are supported to enjoy full and positive lives in their own home or in a homely setting.

2.1 We want to see more older people living in housing which suits their needs and helps maintain their independence. Housing is not just bricks and mortar, but a reflection of experience and facilitator of lifestyle choices. It is important to everyone, but particularly to older people, who are more likely to have impairments which reduce their mobility and to spend more time at home than people of working age.

2.2 As the number of older people in the population increases, so does diversity, accompanied by changing demands and aspirations. As with the rest of society, older people are becoming increasingly active consumers and rightly expect choice in their housing and support.

2.3 What older people are looking for in their homes will clearly vary from person to person, but generally, the following areas are seen as important: adaptability; space for storage and visitors/carers; low maintenance; safety; downstairs bathroom, with level access shower; affordable to heat; manageable garden; access to transport and amenities; safe and secure communities; repairs and adaptations services; and involvement in planning. Older people, in particular, are concerned about overall affordability, taking account of the costs of maintaining a home, including rent or mortgage costs; fuel costs; Council Tax; and transport costs (a particular issue in remote and rural areas).

2.4 Based on its discussions and research with older people and other interested parties, the Wider Planning for an Ageing Population working group identified areas where change is needed to improve housing and related support for older people. These were arranged under the following outcomes, which the group wanted to achieve:

  • Clear strategic leadership is in place at national and local level about the housing outcomes to be delivered for older people.
  • The information and advice needed by older people to make the best decisions about their housing and support is provided.
  • Older people are better assisted to remain in, and make best use of, existing housing stock.
  • The needs of older people for low level, preventative support are met.
  • Investment in new housing provision across the sectors meets future needs of older people.

2.5 These five outcomes now form the basis of the framework for this strategy.

The main principles

2.6 Underlying these outcomes, there are a number of important principles, on which this strategy is based, and which run through the commitments we are making. These are:

  • Older people as an asset. While there are challenges in ageing, older people are an asset to our society and also a big part of the solution, in terms of the care and support they provide themselves, and the contribution they make to their communities. Older people's experiences are vital to ensuring that the services they use are fit for purpose. They should be involved in the planning and design of services which affect them, using models of 'co-production'.
  • Choice. As life expectancy increases, we have multiple generations of older people, with differing situations, needs and expectations, reflecting their individual life experiences. There is no single model of housing and support services that meets the needs of all. We, therefore, need a range of different types of services that are flexible and enable older people to choose the options, which reflect their individual lifestyles and are best for them. This is consistent with the principles of self-directed support.
  • Planning ahead. Issues affecting housing and support for older people also affect others. Younger people need to know about and consider the choices facing them before they reach old age, when they are most able to do so. Planning for older age should be seen as a positive part of life, enabling people to prepare at an early stage for their future needs and enhancing their later years. The suitability of the home, in the event of more limited mobility, is of particular importance, including what changes would need to be made or whether a move should be considered.
  • Preventative support. Most of this strategy is preventative in focus, in line with the priorities of the Christie Commission's report. [23] Housing and housing-related services provide a relatively inexpensive and cost-effective way of enabling older people to live independently at home. They will help to improve quality of life and reduce accidents, and so avoid more costly and traumatic hospital admissions or a move to a care home.

Our commitments

2.7 This strategy presents a ten year vision and programme of action for housing and housing-related support services for older people. The outcomes that we seek and these commitments can only be delivered with concerted and co-ordinated action across central and local government, and in partnership with older people, local communities and service providers.

2.8 The Wider Planning for an Ageing Population report identified five outcomes that should be achieved for housing for older people. The following chapters set out our commitments in relation to each outcome, and what we expect to achieve. A summary of all of the commitments is provided in Annex A.

2.9 We know that things will not stand still, and that new issues will arise within the life of the strategy, as well as new opportunities and technologies. We will, therefore, have to be flexible and adapt our approach, as circumstances change. We will monitor the progress of actions closely and will undertake a major review of progress after five years in 2016.

2.10 Although this strategy focuses on older people and their housing needs, many of the housing features and types of support ( e.g. adaptations) which are helpful to older people will also assist other groups, most significantly younger disabled people, who face many of the same issues in finding suitable housing and support. For this reason, the Scottish Government is working with disabled people as well as older people, in taking forward many of the actions in this strategy.



Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government St Andrew's House Regent Road Edinburgh EH1 3DG

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