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Bungalows needed for growing elderly population

As MPs call for more bungalows to be built to “age proof” housing The Wrekin Housing Trust reveals it is already ahead of the game.

Julie Jones outside her bungalow

As well as its 2,320 bungalows, the housing association supports older tenants through a number of services, which allow them to live independently for as long as possible. Among those who have benefited are Julie and Peter Jones, who now live in a two-bedroomed bungalow in Oakengates. The couple, who have four grown-up children, needed a bungalow as Peter suffers from arthritis, making it difficult for him to get up and down stairs.

“Moving to a bungalow has made a massive difference to our lives,” said Julie who works as manager at a residential centre for adults with learning difficulties. “We used to live in Sutton Hill but the house was too big for us and Peter wasn’t able to manage the stairs.

“Two of our children have homes through The Wrekin Housing Trust and advised us to have a look. The bungalow really suits us as we now have a drive at the front of the house so we don’t have to walk far to get to the car. There are also disability ramps and hand-rails around the bungalow and so it is great for helping Peter get around.”

The bungalow is an older property but before Julie and Peter moved in the Trust installed a new kitchen and bathroom, and tidied up the back garden. Julie added: “I can’t thank the Trust enough and our housing officer, Margaret Roberts, put in so much hard work to get the property right for us. She was very supportive and helped us to settle in – we can’t wait to get out into the back garden when the weather is warm as they did such a good job tidying it up.”

Another tenant who has enjoyed moving into one of the Trust’s bungalows is Pamela Roberts, who left North Wales to be nearer her daughter Claire. “I didn’t have to do anything as Claire found the bungalow for me on the internet and got it ready for me to move straight into,” said Pamela, who now lives in Ketley Bank. “I really like that the bungalow is nice and light, whereas the cottage I lived in before was quite dark. It is also warm and I love looking at the trees at the bottom of the garden. I enjoy gardening, and so I’m getting into that, and I’ve also got a little dog to keep me company.

“I’ve been busy since moving as I’ve joined the U3A, the Trefoil Guild which is for retired Girl Guide leaders, I’ve joined the Friend Retirement Group and I always go to Flicks in the Sticks fortnightly in Ironbridge. I’ve got a wonderful life here in Shropshire, I really enjoy being in the house and having my daughter close by – the bungalow is cosy and just right for me.”

The recommendations came in a report by the Commons communities select committee, which called for a national strategy for older people’s housing. It said new homes should be ‘age-proofed’ so they can meet the current and future needs of older people and that handymen should be provided to help pensioners with certain jobs. It also recommended that planning laws should encourage the building of more housing for older people including bungalows and care villages.

In the last few years The Wrekin Housing Trust has built 288 bungalows and a growing number of tenants have made use of the different retirement schemes offered to them. This includes eight ShireLiving schemes in Shropshire and Staffordshire, which offer accommodation for those aged over 55, with services provided by a 24/7 onsite team.

There are also more than 30 Wrekin Retirement Living Schemes where tenants can access a range of additional services to help them live independently in their own homes. There is also a handyman and adaptation service to ensure homes are geared up to provide items such as grab rails, lever taps and stair rails.

Andy Johnson, Head of Housing at The Wrekin Housing Trust, said: “Giving people the opportunity to live in a bungalow, or at one of our retirement living schemes, encourages them to be independent, while still providing them with the support they need to be safe and happy. We have worked hard to ensure that those with mobility problems are catered for, and that as people get older they have accommodation which is not only comfortable, warm and easy to manage, but also suits their needs.”

19th March 2018