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Communities' older people shunning housing and support

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Communities' older people shunning housing and support


Published by Max Salsbury for in Housing and also in Communities

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Older people from Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities are continuing to shun specialist housing and support services, a new study has revealed.

The report, commissioned by Aksa Homes and the Oldham Housing Investment, found that many elders are choosing to remain in larger, under-occupied family homes whilst relying on traditional support networks within their own communities.

This study found that this was largely due to factors such as language barriers, strongly embedded cultural traditions and a lack of understanding of the housing options available, with many respondents saying they were unclear about the difference between sheltered housing, extra care or residential care - all of which were perceived as places for the physically unwell.

The study's key findings, which found that aspirations and preferences were virtually unchanged compared to a similar study 12 years ago, were presented this week to members of the Housing Learning and Improvement Network (LIN) by Tanuja Patel, project officer at Aksa Homes and Steve Wood, senior consultant at Project Development Workshop, who produced the report.

Mr Wood said: “Whilst we should always be mindful of cultural differences between BME communities around the UK, the Oldham study revealed some interesting findings. One significant one was that, despite the interventions and efforts of housing providers and other agencies since that last study was carried out, the attitudes and aspirations of this particular group of older people have not significantly changed in the intervening years.

"We consulted 140 older people through focus groups and face to face interviews and found that over half of the 94 people we interviewed under-occupy their home by at least one bedroom. Over seven out of 10 of these live in a housing association property. Tellingly, when asked if they thought that situation would change as they got older, seven out of ten people again thought they would still be living in their current home in 10 years’ time."

“Adapting existing homes remains the preferred solution for the majority of older people from both the Bangladeshi and Pakistani communities” he said. “However whilst it’s clear that deeply embedded cultural traditions of relying on family and the local community for support remain strong, things are slowly changing. I think the next generation of older BME residents who face less of a language barrier than their parents and grandparents are more likely to consider other housing and support options. Indeed, over half the people interviewed saw themselves living independently but remaining close to family.”

Mushtaq Khan, Director of Aksa Homes, said: “This report provides much food for thought. It helps to fill the gap in evidence that we have around the future needs and aspirations of older people in this area. We are now working with our tenants and partners to develop our services and ensure that we remain a forward-thinking and responsive organisation.”


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