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Rural housing not meeting needs of ageing population

A new report from Horizon Housing, a community housing provider, has found that most rural housing is not sufficient for older Australians in Queensland.

The “My Home, My Place” report released by Horizon Housing shows many elderly people in rural and remote areas can't age in place. [Source: Horizon Housing]

Funded by the Queensland Department of Communities, Disability Services and Seniors, the “My Home, My Place” report focused on the Maranoa region of Queensland and found 73 percent of older regional people had no help or advice around ageing in place.

Out of the participants, 64 percent wanted modifications to their home to stay out of aged care longer but 50 percent didn’t know how to arrange home modification assessments.

The report highlights issues in rural towns that face harsh environmental conditions and housing design challenges.

While more than 96 percent of the participants in the report wanted to age in place, the rural regions were not equipped to do so.

Horizon Housing Chief Executive Officer, Jason Cubit, says, “I grew up on a farm in a rural area. Us farmers are quite self-sufficient and don’t like to ask for help or think they can sort it out themselves. I think that is a key driver in remote communities.

“It is easier to roll out programs in metro areas. There wasn’t the data to support the need in remote areas, and places that really matter. In rural and remote areas, it is so important that our older people stay in those communities with family and friends, and keep those legacies going.

“The preference is that someone can stay in their family home. That is a better option than going straight into aged care. A lot of homes are older with narrow hallways. They are really hard to modify and make it unsuitable for someone to age in place.”

Since housing is an important part of a person’s wellbeing, the report hopes to showcase the need for more programs and services in rural towns, since most of these resources are established in urban areas.

Mr Cubit believes the survey is important in identifying ways to develop future accommodation for older people in regional areas, as well as a signal to Government to better target rural and regional areas for aged care programs.

The research shows an obvious liveability difference between the elderly living in metropolitan areas and those living in rural and remote areas.

Over 65 percent of rural residents live in detached homes or on properties with over five acres, and over 27 percent of the participants were living in homes that was 50 years old.

Mr Cubit says, “We hope our research and work in regional communities sets the benchmark for other housing providers across the country to continue to deliver affordable, appropriate and sustainable housing solutions that respond to diverse community needs.”

“The My Home, My Place project is an important leap towards identifying, understanding and addressing the unique and very real challenges faced by seniors in rural areas.”


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