Appropriate Elderly Housing
Increasing population ageing has an impact with regard to housing that is not to be underestimated. In order to formulate an appropriate answer to this, it is necessary to sufficiently diversify the housing possibilities for the elderly: together with a balanced offering of residential care facilities, an adequate offering of residences appropriate to the course of life (adapted or adaptable) must also be provided. In this way, the elderly, even with less self-reliance or an increasing need for care, can continue to live in their familiar environment.
Together with significant preventative value, timely screening and adaptation of residences is also very valuable regarding improving the quality of life. In this way, serious health problems (e.g., hip fractures) and the social costs associated with them (e.g., health insurance and use of professional healthcare personnel) can be prevented. When organizing 'socially responsible care', the 'housing' aspect therefore constitutes a crucial fundamental fact.
The administration of the City of Antwerp and the Flemish Community Commission (FCC) also recognize this fact and indicates that living independently as long as possible is essential. The current approach to housing that is adaptable to the course of life in Antwerp as well as Brussels, however, involves many obstacles for older people who want to and can continue to live at home. Therefore, the FCC has committed to supporting this theme over the last two years by establishing the Brussels Support Center for Home Adaptations. In Antwerp, to this point the focus has been on offering various screening services on request.
This project – which will be conducted under the Platform “Active Caring Neighborhood” – intends to explicitly support autonomous living among elderly people in the metropolitan area and pursues a more proactive and integral approach to home screening so that a continuity is created from notification about consultancy services to implementation. By means of home visits by volunteers, the project wishes to offer all elderly people from the test population the opportunity to have their home screened for appropriateness and safety. When it is inappropriate, volunteers contact the professional services. When the step is made to adapting the home, volunteers are also used for executing small jobs, or small job services that specialize in the social economy are deployed. Furthermore, the project also wishes to respond to the living habits of the elderly. Indeed, unsafe behavior can also undermine housing that is adaptable to the course of life. To this end, home assistance services will be used to give tips and instructions concerning safe behavior to elderly people. Deploying these services is also responsible for producing and additional effect: raising the awareness of these people concerning housing adaptations and the importance of good, safe and accessible housing.
This project also intends to assess what the most frequent housing requirements are for the elderly and how they use their residence. Therefore, during their home visits, volunteers assess what the housing needs of the elderly are and how the residences are used spatially. After receiving advice about housing adaptations by the professional services, the volunteers report how many older people have actually adapted their home, or what the reasons were for not making any adjustments. This data concerning housing needs, spatial use and housing adaptations can later be used for policy recommendations and in follow-up projects on alternative forms of housing for vulnerable elderly people and those of diverse origin.
The partners in this project are - for the Antwerp test population - the city services Living Together, the police prevention service, the fire department prevention service, the Ergo housing advice service from the Zorgbedrijf and the volunteers that sign up for this project. In Brussels the partners are the Knowledge Center Home Care Brussels, EVA npo, Chambéry npo, Aksent npo, the Socialist Health Insurance Fund with its regional service center Home Care Brabant, and the partners of the Brussels Support Center for Home Adaptations partnership.