Home is where the elderly want to be

DIGNITY and respect for an ageing population are at the heart of the Scottish Government’s long-term housing blueprint for the Borders over the next ten years.

By 2035 the number of people aged 75 and over living in Scotland is expected to increase by 82 per cent (to 740,000) and here in the Borders the increase is likely to be as high as a 103 per cent increase in the number of households headed by someone over the age of 75 by 2033.

Mindful that the number of elderly people living in the Borders is considerably higher than the national average the Scottish Government is looking at ensuring there is a range of housing and support services available in the region that will enable people to stay in their own home for as long as possible. Their Older People’s Housing Strategy stresses the importance of supporting people to remain at home independently for as long as possible, Government spending more focused on preventative services to reduce the number of emergency hospital admissions amongst the 75+ population.

Scottish Government Housing Minister Keith Brown said: “The hallmark of a civilised nation is the way in which it treats its older citizens. The Scottish Borders older people have made, and continue to make, an invaluable contribution to our society. They deserve to be treated with dignity and respect in their old age.

“This strategy aims to help older people in the Scottish Borders to live independently, comfortably and safely at home in their communities where they are valued as an asset and their voices are heard.

“The vast majority of older people will continue to live in mainstream housing. However, there is still a vital role for providers of sheltered housing and extra care housing in reaching out to support older people in the wider community.

“Against this demographic backdrop we face the most challenging financial situation since devolution. It is therefore important to invest resources wisely in housing, social care and health.”

The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) has also been involved in drawing up the housing strategy and their spokesperson, Councillor Harry McGuigan said: “We are delighted to launch this joint strategy with the Scottish Government. Older people have consistently told us that they want to remain at home, as they age. This strategy is a major step towards putting in place the right services that allow people to remain at home and giving older people the choices they need, to live the best lives possible.

“Older people may be the ones who benefit most directly from this strategy, but if we can achieve its aims, we will all - as a community and of whatever age - benefit in the long term.”

Age Scotland are also partners in drawing up the strategy and their spokesperson said: “We believe this strategy has tremendous potential to have a positive impact on older people.

“From the focus on preventative support to the need for comprehensive information and advice, the strategy addresses each of the key areas in which change is necessary if we are to achieve our shared ambitions of enabling older people to remain at home for as long as possible, and as active citizens within their communities.

“There is much to do, and the role of local authorities is central to the strategy’s full implementation.”