Housing (health and wellbeing needs in South Tyneside)

Those at risk

Older Persons Housing

  • South Tyneside has an estimated population of 148,127 (Census 2011), which is projected to rise to 163,800 by 2031; despite this, the borough's population has been decreasing for several decades, with a 3.1% decrease since 2001. South Tyneside is made up of approximately 70,000 households, which indicates a 7.7% increase in the last 20 years, with a further projected increase of 14.3% by 2033. The greatest increase can be seen from the older cohorts, with a projected 20% increase in over 65 years over next 10 years and a 39.5% increase of those aged over 85 within the same period. This would result in 22.5% of the borough's population being of pensionable age. This dramatic shift within the population results in the need for consideration for future accommodation and services, this is one of the greatest challenges that the council face.
  • The largest concentration of older people can be identified within the urban fringe, including Cleadon, Boldon and Whitburn; with lowest numbers living within Inner South Shields. From the households survey we can identify that the majority of older households live within the owner-occupied sector, although there is approximately one-third of older households live within the social sector.
  • Encouragingly there are a lower proportion of older households that are currently living in housing need, or living within homes in disrepair. Notwithstanding this, there are a number of households that are living in multiple housing needs, as their current accommodation does not meet their needs. Not surprisingly the main reason is due to home being unsuitable due to mobility or special needs. The highest concentration of older households who are living in need live within South Shields Inner, with lowest levels within Hebburn.
  • The highest percentage of older people living in housing need are within the private rented sector, with a number of older households having complex and multiple needs living within the private rented sector. On the other side of there are very few households who are currently living within social rented housing that need to move to off-set their needs as their current home meets their needs. Therefore, suitable high quality older person's accommodation in the owner-occupier sector in something that needs to be considered for the future.
  • There was an identified issue with owner-occupied households finding it difficult to maintain their homes throughout the urban fringe, although a number of these households could afford to offset their need within the open market to move to a more appropriate property. Properties that have serious repair problems can be found within South Shields, but unlike younger households, these are more likely to be owner-occupiers and are unable to afford to undertake the repairs.

Housing Plus schemes

  • There are a number of socially provided 'sheltered' schemes throughout South Tyneside; these offer independent living for older people with some security through digitally enabled support. The council have restructured the service and their sheltered schemes are now called the housing plus service; this restructure has had a significant impact on the desirability of the schemes.
  • The level of demand for council older person's accommodation, including housing plus schemes, has seen a rise in recent years. Some individual schemes are less popular; this often relates more to location than to the quality of accommodation on offer. Demand for older people's housing is influenced by aspirations, and there is qualitative evidence that many older people in the borough are not looking to the traditional sheltered housing model as a priority choice. Regardless of this there are no long-term voids within any of the council housing plus schemes, with re-let times reduced and number of bids per property increased.
  • The decent homes work that has been undertaken in the housing plus schemes has increased the desirability of these homes. This has included visual issues for older people, with contrasting kitchen units and work top surfaces and dementia-friendly design with different coloured doors, walls and carpets with clear signage and easily navigation of schemes. In addition, there has been additional funding given from Homes and Community Agency (HCA), which has looked to give the schemes additional facilities, such as ensuring all schemes are suitable for assistive technology equipment, connectivity through wi-fi and generally developing an environment to encourage using life skills where tenants feel safe. Public consultation has highlighted the desire for assistive call systems and social and community activities to assist with independent living.
  • South Tyneside has an extremely high number of residents entering residential care, due to a break-down in their carer support; although the council and partners have worked hard to reduce this it remains a priority for the future.
  • Through consultation within South Tyneside and further afield, residents wish to remain independent and part of the community as long as possible, rather than entering residential care. The council will work with their partners to ensure that choice is available to older residents and a planned approach to 'last time movers' is undertaken. Residential care has high levels of costs associated with it and research indicates the negative impact it can have on the quality of life for residents entering this sector.

Households with Support Needs

  • From the households survey we can identified that 8.3% of properties have been either purpose-built for a person with a long-term illness, health problem or disability or has been adapted to meet their needs. A similar percentage of households stated that they current require care or support to enable them to remain within their current home.
  • Adaptations undertaken within the private sector currently need to be means tested in order to gain access to the service, although anything under £1,000 is not means tested. Despite the on-going demand for adaptations within the borough there are trends pointing towards less stairlifts, level access showers and ramps. Improvements to steps and additions of handrails are the most common adaptations to accommodation that assists residents to remain in their own home safer and for longer.
  • The funding to undertake adaptations has halved within the last three years, which has had a significant impact on the number of adaptations that can be undertaken.
  • There are some properties that are very difficult to adapt, due to size or layout; this can include one-bedroom bungalows and sheltered schemes and flats with concrete floors. There are also problems with newly built three storey town houses. Although it may be best interest of the household to move to alternative accommodation this is often not what they want and therefore their housing aspirations needs to be weighed up against their support and health needs.
  • In terms of the current adaptations budget for the borough, which covers all major and minor adaptations that is required to residents' homes, the vast majority of funding is allocated for major disabled facilities grant (93.4% of the budget), with the rest covering minor adaptations, such as handrails. Within the last financial year there were over 100 stairlifts installed.