Making small changes to older people’s homes such as installing handrails, ramps and level-access showers could cut costs by millions of pounds a year, according to new research.
The Centre for Ageing Better and the University of West of England say there are at least half a million households in England where someone aged over 65 with disabilities or long-term illness does not have the adaptations they need.
They say making small changes and repairing homes earlier should be a greater priority for local services and could help to avoid or delay use of NHS and social care as well as greatly improving quality of life for people who are losing mobility.
Council leaders welcomed the report and said the NHS should consider using some of the extra money it was given in the recent Budget to provide the home adaptations needed.
Rachael Docking of the Centre for Ageing Better said: 'While many older people are able to manage at home, illness, long term conditions or disability can severely impact people’s ability to manage day-to-day.
'If homes are not adapted to meet these needs, people are at higher risk of injury, more likely to experience emotional distress or depression and are more likely to need higher levels of care or require hospitalisation if they have a serious fall.'
Cllr Izzi Seccombe of the Local Government Association (LGA) said: 'The findings of this report underline the importance of investing in prevention and early intervention, which alleviates the pressures on hospitals.
‘The NHS would do well to consider investing some of its new money from the Budget in services such as these, as part of a wider investment in the community.'