'Knowing me - knowing you'
: an exploratory and analytical study of the factors at an individual and organisation level which influence housing choices for older people

  • Colleen M. Bright

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This research study is concerned with the projected, significant rise in the number of older people in the next 20 to 30 years with a consequent growth in demand for health, social care and specialised housing. There is also an added challenge of meeting this growing demand alongside government policy requirements on ‘choice’ and ‘voice’, as they operate in Wales, as well as current and projected fiscal challenges. In the context of the challenges posed by an increasing older people population this research study will explore the concept of choice and specifically whether housing choice exists for older people in maintaining their independence in old age. The significance of independent living in the context of this research study, relates to an individual’s ability to maintain choice and control over their daily lives within their home environment. The research findings indicate that decisions made, or not made, by individuals in terms of planning ahead for old age, can potentially impact on their ability to sustain independence as they age in the home of their choice. The tendency for older people to ‘discount the future’ is explored by the researcher highlighting the potential to influence such behaviour by encouraging older people to ‘count the future’ and plan for it in terms of their individual needs. The impact on individual housing choice of decisions made by organisations, in particular local authorities, the NHS and Registered Social Landlords, is also explored within the Literature Review and discussion of the research findings. The consequences of a growing elderly population will be explored by focusing on how the housing choices available to older people with a long term condition, and potentially increasing care needs as they age, may be influenced by decisions made at an individual and organisation level. The findings of this qualitative, exploratory study are based on data collected and analysed from 22 one to one, semi-structured interviews with 2 groups of older people. The Prospective Group (forward looking to potential changes in their housing needs) comprised 10 older people aged between 57 to 80 years, all of whom live in their own home in the community, and the Retrospective Group (looking back to the circumstances that prompted changes in their housing needs) comprised 12 older people aged between 66 to 84 years, all of whom have moved in to sheltered housing. The research findings were also reviewed and discussed with a number of community based groups and a Focus Group. Analysis and discussion of the research findings enabled the identification of a number of themes which the researcher has distilled in to 3 overarching themes: • Enabling informed choice • Issues for organisations • Issues for Individuals The findings of this research study are important because they illustrate that, while most if not all Individuals wish to remain independent in the home of their choice as they age, achievement of this outcome is usually left to chance. The researcher argues that this will continue to be the case unless action is taken at a national and local level to clarify the role of organisations and individuals in supporting and achieving independent living in to old age. The findings point to potentially significant implications for individuals and organisations in terms of an erosion of choices available for sustaining independence in to old age, at an individual level, and an inability to sustain services, at an organisation level. Emerging policy and continued national and local debate on the issues explored by this research study illustrate an increased focus on the consequences of an ageing population. The researcher suggests that future planning of housing and communities will need to more effectively reflect the diverse needs, wants and expectations of current and future generations of older people in terms of the homes they wish to live in.
    Date of AwardJun 2013
    Original languageEnglish


    • housing
    • elderly
    • older people
    • specialised housing

    Cite this