CollaborAGE Directory

The Housing LIN has long championed a variety of community-led approaches to housing for an ageing population. In line with this, we have published a range of useful materials to raise awareness and showcase latest practice.

Covid-19 has highlighted the value of existing community connections in enabling rapid responses to local needs. The impact of the pandemic on every community has led to new partnerships and a realisation that there are enormous reserves of skill, good will and energy available when people feel motivated by common interests.

This online Directory seeks to enhance understanding and inspire local groups to co-produce innovative approaches to determine what might work in their community.

It specifically builds on the Housing LIN’s concept of ‘CollaborAGE’:

“With housing one of the fundamentals of life at any age, a CollaborAGE manifesto would surely begin with central and local government, house-builders and others working with older people to provide homes they want to live in. Homes that are situated within thriving, inter-generational communities.”

Jeremy Porteus, Housing LIN

The housing industry

Working with housebuilders, actively involve and collaborate with older people, and intergenerationally, in shaping their developments - rather than unveiling their own grand designs to potential customers in a thinly-disguised early marketing pitch.

Policymakers, funders, architects and planners

Having the foresight to codesign and develop inviting, age-inclusive, lifelong neighbourhoods and accessible, adaptable homes for all ages, as recommended by HAPPI and the lifetime homes standards.

Commissioners

A co-productive and collaborative approach to commissioning drawing on the expertise of citizens, service users, families and carers has numerous benefits. These include designing services sensitive to local needs and contexts, increasing integration of health, social care and other services with housing and supporting individuals and local communities to develop their capacity and resilience.

Networks of local community-led groups

‘CollaborAGE’ can super-charge local community-led groups giving them the opportunity to play a greater role in their locality and to pursue long cherished plans with renewed vigour and purpose.

Citizens

For people who use services, carers and the general public a ‘CollaborAGE’ approach means the opportunity to have a meaningful voice, learn new skills, and develop wider networks. A greater sense of ownership and a genuine role in developing services that fulfil real needs should lead to better outcomes. 

New homes take time to plan and build, many existing homes need investment to improve them and neighbourhoods take time to evolve.

There is no quick fix; a long term approach to building and maintaining capacity is needed, both to enable the social capital to thrive (individual relationships) and the physical capital to mature (belonging and connectedness to where one lives – the homes and wider infrastructure). Where this works well, and as evidenced by Covid-19, this can deliver outcomes such as:

  • Tackling loneliness and isolation: giving people confidence to participate in social networks and build relationships.
  • Reducing health inequalities: creating the conditions for improved health and wellbeing for all
  • Enabling independence: creating greater independence and self-care as well as the opportunity to support others in a housing or community setting
  • Supporting person-centred approaches: providing more effective personalised care and support at home as an alternative to more institutional settings, such as residential care.
  • Harnessing coproduction: making the most of the assets, strengths, passions and knowledge of every member of the community, to help build more vibrant, colourful, inclusive and resilient neighbourhoods.
  • A sense of belonging: creating a community where people want to live and belong.

For more about housing organisations have worked to support older residents experiencing increased loneliness and isolation during the pandemic, read the Housing LIN A-Z of activities

Learning from what works across the UK, and in other countries, there are some essential elements that enable relationships and community networks to develop that can be sustained in the long term. We have found that strong relationships between people and organisations help to harness local assets that generate greater resilience. In turn, this helps to maintain energy and sustain commitment over the longer term and assist with overcoming inevitable challenges and setbacks.

How collaboration starts depends on local circumstances. There is not a typical sequence of activities or events, some or all of the nine essential elements are often being developed at the same time.

The people who start the process could be an informal group of current residents, a community organisation or individual that advocates for local people, a council or a geographically disparate group of people who share a common goal related to housing and home.

You can search for information about each of the nine essential elements in the Directory at the bottom of the screen. For each element there are links suggesting case studies of places where that element was a key part of the development. There is also a list of useful organisations related to the subject.

Do you need help developing a collaborative approach? For further advice and support and/or to talk about your plans, contact HLIN Consult at consultancy@housinglin.org.uk

Nine elements for collaborative success

In producing this Directory, we have identified nine elements that are important for collaborative success.

  1. Making the connection with health and wellbeing
  2. Engagement of current/potential residents from outset
  3. Political support
  4. Community Chest - Developing Physical and Social Assets
  5. Shared interests and goals
  6. Engagement of wider community
  7. People as connectors
  8. A proactive approach to increasing diversity, equality and inclusion
  9. Rules of engagement and governance

Acknowledgements

Written by Lois Beech. Margaret Edwards and Clare Skidmore, with additional contributions from Pete Fleischmann and edited by Jeremy Porteus.  Set out by Jerome Billeter and illustrated by Jolie Goodman.