Ethnic minorities put off from moving in later life, research finds

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Barriers are preventing individuals from ethnic minorities moving into housing for older people.

These include existing stock not culturally or religiously situated, stigma within some communities that they are associated with a care home, and a lack of information and advice.

Commissioned by Kirklees Council in West Yorkshire, Housing Learning and Improvement Network (LIN) carried out the research between May and August 2021 to gather the views of 500 people aged 45-plus from ethnic minorities, particularly from the South Asian and African/African Caribbean communities.

The research indicated older people from both communities were seeking specialised accommodation that provided culturally appropriate food and social activities; enabled family and friends to stay; ensured staff and residents respected and understood and preferably shared their culture or religion; and celebrated cultural and religious events.

Individuals from South Asian communities were more likely to state a barrier to moving to specialised housing for older people was that they did not think their cultural or religious needs would be met either by staff (37%), other residents (29%), or the facilities available (27%). However, for African/African Caribbean communities a barrier to moving was related to cultural or religious competency, but this was more about staff (20%) and facilities (20%) than other residents (8%).

Older People from Ethnic Minorities in Kirklees: Housing Needs and Preferences Study said people from South Asian communities wanted specialised housing that was close to a place of worship and provided religiously appropriate facilities.

In relation to preferences for types of housing, the study found a retirement village was the most popular option. However, many people were not aware of different types of specialised housing options.

The research aims to help inform decision making and the delivery of mainstream and specialist housing and support services suited to older people from ethnic minorities now and over the next five to 15 years.

Naz Parkar, director of homes and neighbourhoods at Kirklees Council, said: ‘The findings from the study are invaluable and will help the council and partners allocate future resources to make sure all older people in our communities benefit from a more inclusive housing and support provision.’

Other findings included many people were living in properties that would not be suitable for later life because the homes were not accessible or easily adaptable and could lead to some people being socially isolated or lonely.

Research identified 56% of respondents said they would like, and potentially need help, to adapt their properties so they could remain living in their existing homes in later life. Those who were interested in moving preferred to live on the outskirts of a town or city. Just over half (52%) would prefer this option compared to a rural setting (19%), town centre (15%), or urban centre (6%)

Factors preventing people from moving included ‘can’t afford a suitable home’ (33%), ‘suitable home not available’ (24%), ‘can’t face the upheaval of moving’ (13%) and ‘I don’t know what my housing options are’ (10%).

Both ‘downsizing’ and ‘rightsizing’ were important to respondents. While some older people from ethnic minorities wanted to move to smaller, more manageable properties as they got older, others preferred a larger home where they could live with family or have them to stay.

Ian Copeman, Housing LIN operations director, said: ‘The findings will play a pivotal role in the council’s effort to plan for homes that meet the needs of all communities.’