The focus of this report by Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Professor Chris Whitty is on how to maximise the independence, and minimise the time in ill health, between people in England reaching older age and the end of their life. It is aimed at policymakers (government and professional bodies), healthcare professionals, medical scientists and the general public.
After reducing disease, the second broad approach is to change environments so that, for a given level of disability, people can maintain their independence longer. This includes building or adapting housing to be appropriate for an older population. The report argues it will be considerably easier to plan and build for this future of a predictable heavy concentration of older adults in particular geographical areas if we do it now, rather than trying to retrofit at scale later.
Poor quality homes contribute to the development and exacerbation of many long-term health conditions affecting older people, accelerating their pathway to dependence. The report shows how improving housing conditions, including by adaptations and with technology, can be an effective means of improving self-reported health and symptom severity for individuals with existing health conditions, as well as reducing levels of primary and secondary care use and waiting times to be discharged from hospital.