Vulnerable elderly patients are waiting weeks in hospital, costing the NHS millions of pounds, because of a lack of suitable housing, Age UK has warned.
The charity said patients who needed home adaptations such as grab rails and ramps were having to wait on average 27 extra days to go home from hospital.
Keeping a patient in hospital costs the NHS more money than securing them safe care at home. Last year, a total of 44,000 days in hospital at a cost of £11.2m were caused by delays in adapting a home, Age UK said.
In a new report, the charity has called on the Government to guarantee that all new homes are built to the “lifetime homes standard” so that they can be easily adapted to the needs of elderly and disabled residents.
Over the next decade, the number of ‘pensioner households’ is expected to rise to 13 million.
Caroline Abrahams, director of Age UK, said it was “worrying” that so many older people were living in unsuitable homes.
“It’s time we woke up to the fact that good housing is central to supporting older people to be independent, fit and well,” she said. “Yes, we need a much wider range of specialist housing for older people but as most prefer to remain where they are it is crucial we do more to make all our mainstream housing fit for the purpose of accommodating our ageing population.”
The charity also recommended that all older patients are offered an automatic assessment of their home when then they make contact with health services.