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Government unveil plans for elderly
PLANS designed to keep elderly people in their own homes longer have been unveiled by the Government. 
Hazel Blears, secretary of state for communities and local government, and housing minister Caroline Flint unveiled a range of requirements for all new homes, including 16 features such as stairs wide enough for stairlifts, downstairs bathrooms and room for wheelchairs to turn.  
Hazel said: "Demand for housing is high - being driven to a large extent by older people. Not only do we need to build more homes, but the right kind of homes too. That means 'lifetime homes' suited to families with pushchairs right through to older people in wheelchairs. 
'By making age friendly changes both inside and outside of homes we can help to break the link between old age and dependency.' 
To accelerate progress, from 2011, all new social housing will have to be built to the 'lifetime homes' standard, and the hope is that private sector houses will also follow. 
The announcement has been welcomed by the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) chief inspector Paul Snell.  
'The Commission for Social Care Inspection welcomes the Government's announcement about ensuring that future housing options support people to live safely, independently and how they choose, as they grow older,' he said. 'In planning for an ageing population, it is essential to listen to what people really want now and in the future, and the strategy launched recognises the importance of involving people in the design of their living environment. Good strategic needs assessment, engagement with local citizens and coordination by local councils with a range of partners will be key to ensure the right mix of housing options to meet the increasing expectations of local people. 
But Nick Sanderson, chief executive of retirement village company Audley, says the Government's plans will only worsen the current problem of older people living in large family houses they no longer really need. 
'Part of the reason for the shortage of housing in this country is that older people who are often empty-nesters are hanging on to big family properties they no longer really need,' he said. 'Whilst we very much welcome the Government thinking that we all need to plan ahead for our retirement, the answer does not lie in people occupying the ground floor of a three-story home because it now has a downstairs bathroom.' 
The Government also wants to work with councils and planners to make entire neighbourhoods suitable for elderly people under its 'Lifetime Homes, Lifetime Neighbourhoods' plans.
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