NEW research on the housing needs of older people in Scotland has highlighted a need to increase the availability of accessible and adaptable homes so that people can live well and independently for as long as possible.

Age Scotland’s focus group research, funded by the Scottish Government and published yesterday, is an extension of the major national housing survey into the needs of older people released last year. It highlights the preference of older people to be able to live in a home with step-free access, that was over a single storey and had access to a garden.

The study was undertaken in November and December last year and digs into how people’s experiences of the Covid-19 pandemic has affected their lives and housing decisions.

It reveals that community links and relationships with others nearby are key to decision making about housing choices, with people more willing to make do with a home that does not fully suit their needs if they feel settled in their area.

A serious life event such as deteriorating health is the most likely catalyst for older people to move home, and these moves often occur later than required. People were also found to have a fairly low awareness of services to help them make home adaptations and there was varying availability across Scotland.

With an ageing population, Scotland needs to ensure its housing stock is not only fit for the future but is able to meet the needs of older and disabled people now.

The report recommends that more homes which are accessible and adaptable are built, including targets for local authorities; that the Scottish Government work with housebuilders to deliver a greater mix of home types in new developments and foster intergenerational communities; ensure Scottish Government national housing strategies recognise and meet the needs of older people; and boost investment in care and repair services so that older and disabled people have easy and cost-effective ways to adapt their home wherever they live in Scotland.

Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said: “I welcome this report, which highlights the importance of listening to those with lived experience.

“The findings will help as we take on our new 20-year strategy for Scotland’s homes and communities, Housing to 2040.

“This new strategy shows how, subject to the outcome of the election, we will take forward a number of actions in this area, including the need for accessibility and adaptability for new homes, and the need to streamline the adaptations process and ensure planning is undertaken strategically across housing and health and social care services.”