We were asked to provide a Blog for Foundations’ focus on moving home. Their ‘Move On’ campaign seeks to highlight the work of Care and Repair Agencies on this agenda. We call for moving home support to be ‘part of their toolkit’ in addressing later life housing needs.
Our aim when establishing The Senior Move Partnership 10 years ago was to develop an approach to provide much needed support to help older people move home – with the intention of taking the hard work and stress away from what can be a difficult and challenging process. Thousands of moves later and with a growing network of trained and experienced Senior Move Managers we are proud of what we deliver and can truly say our 121 support has enabled significant numbers of older people to make a positive move.
Over the past 2 years despite the impact of the Covid lockdown on the housing market, we are seeing stronger than ever demand. Every client comes to us with a different driver – for many their current home became a prison during lockdown, exacerbating issues of isolation. The family home which they are now typically under-occupying and worrying about its upkeep is another issue which can drive a move. The availability of attractive and aspirational retirement living options in their vicinity can help customers see that there are new housing options available – this can push a person towards taking the next step towards downsizing. For some the current home is no longer safe or adequate in meeting their needs, and perhaps adaptations are not the answer. Indeed we see many clients with adapted properties who are lonely and isolated.
Equity in a property or available funds are key to choice in later life. Options open up. We estimate that 90% or more of our clients are owner occupiers. The choice and availability of retirement living options is increasing and will continue to do so, although some areas have more provision than others. We tend to move clients into independent living or housing with care developments – it is rare that we are asked to help someone downsize to a bungalow or smaller house. This is no doubt due to the demographic of the customers we work with, they tend to be older and in search of company and support.
One of the big issues we have encountered is providing services for those who may not have equity or a sufficient budget to move home. Moving home even at a very basic level ie hiring a ‘man with a van’ costs money. Many are often faced with finding perhaps social or affordable housing which meets their needs but are required to move quickly to take up a tenancy and struggle because of a lack of time to plan, fund and arrange. A flexible and innovative use of Disabled Facilities Grants or local health funding paying towards a relocation could go some way to bridging the gap and making moves happen. Health and housing partners should see a Senior Move Management service as part of their toolkit when addressing an older person’s housing needs.
We are keen to work in partnership to develop approaches that use local funding and harness our expertise – however, we have been frustrated over past years by the often-bureaucratic hurdles to navigate in order to bring a collaboration to fruition. We have the skills, capacity and experience and can swing into action quickly to support a client to move home – we don’t have the overheads or have to employ a staff team, we work cost effectively on a client-by-client basis.
The Foundations report Housing Options, Downsizing and Move on Services sets out the need and case for specialist moving home services – we know from experience the difference our approach makes in practice, it is needed and it works – some innovative partnership work would roll this out further. https://www.foundations.uk.com/