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Business & Economy

New homes for North East’s ageing population could ease burden on NHS

According to planning and design consultants Barton Willmore, building new types of homes to accommodate the North East’s ageing population will help alleviate future pressure on the NHS.

The company has urged local authorities to put strategies in place to keep more elderly people out of hospital following figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) that show some council areas will see 30 per cent of the population aged over 65 by 2043.

New types of homes, from those with on-site care to semi-independent living setups, could reduce demand on hospitals from elderly people with health issues.

James Hall, partner at Barton Willmore, explained: “The current coronavirus situation has put into sharp focus the absolute need to protect capacity in the NHS, and the timing of these latest population projections underlines that.

“In the next 23 years, we’re going to see significantly more people of retirement age – and at the moment we simply don’t have the housing to allow people to live as independently as possible with various complex health needs.

“There are already developers providing new types of properties that fit those needs.

“However, we need to build many more like them to make sure the North East provides a sustainable way of living for the big population changes that are headed our way.”

The kind of housing that’s needed would be accommodation with care services as well as shared lounges and dining facilities to help reduce loneliness.

This model of housing can also work for other groups of people who require assisted living support.

In particular there are thousands of mental health patients who need safe housing once they leave healthcare facilities, and a great deal of existing family housing is not considered safe.

James added: “It’s clear that we need to keep people out of hospital as much as possible, and to improve the rehabilitation of patients.

“That means we’ll need to think creatively and strategically about how patients can be accommodated in the community, at home, where care may need to be delivered.”