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Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Meeting of the Parliament 29 January 2019

Agenda: Time for Reflection, Topical Question Time, St John’s Hospital (Paediatric Services), Social Isolation and Loneliness, Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland, Business Motion, Decision Time, Housing and Ageing


Contents


Housing and Ageing

The final item of business today is a members’ business debate on motion S5M-15454, in the name of Graham Simpson, on “Housing through the lens of ageing”. The debate will be concluded without any question being put.

Motion debated,

That the Parliament welcomes the publication in January 2019 of the report, Housing through the lens of Ageing: Integration, Communication and Community, an analysis of the Age Scotland Housing Project, which has been co-produced by Age Scotland and the University of Stirling; notes that this builds on previous research and has the aim of constructively progressing the thinking, debate and practice of the role of housing in the quality of life of older people by analysing housing research data gathered via a national housing roadshow and survey; commends the analysis undertaken by the university and, in particular, the input from its team of community researchers; notes that the topics covered in the research explored the views of older people on their current housing situation and changing needs, their experience of adaptations and energy efficiency measures, including how these have been funded; and if they had heard of or used their local care and repair scheme; acknowledges the recommendations on six key areas, strategic planning, information and advice, adaptations, housing with care or support, preventative support and new housing; believes that these findings can help to inform the development and implementation of the Scottish Government’s housing strategy for older people, Age, Home and Community, and notes the ambition to see collaborative efforts to take this important work forward so that older people in Central Scotland and across the country can live safe, healthy and independent lives at home for as long as possible.

17:08  

I am pleased to be able to open this debate on “Housing through the lens of ageing: Integration, communication and community”, which is the title of a report that has been co-produced by Age Scotland and the University of Stirling.

I thank members from across the chamber who signed the motion in my name; in particular, my good friends Monica Lennon, Andy Wightman—who is otherwise engaged—and Kenny Gibson, whose seniority gives him a special interest in the subject. [Laughter.]

How can we, as a society, better prepare for and meet the housing needs of an ageing population? What role does the home play in the quality of life of older people? Those are the questions that the report tackled.

The number of people aged 75 and over is projected to increase by 27 per cent over the next 10 years, and by 79 per cent over the next 25 years. That gives us a clear set of challenges.

We all want to help older people to live independently and safely in their own homes for as long as possible; it is better for them and it is better for strained public services. However, that requires investment, be it through adaptations or care and repair services. Both those areas are struggling: we continue on that road at our peril. I will say more about each area later.

Three key themes, or areas, in which improvements are needed emerged from the Age Scotland research. They are integration, communication and community, which are all intrinsically linked. First, lack of integration between councils, health and social care providers, service users and everyone in between leads to confusion, poor management, ineffective strategies and systems and, ultimately, an inferior housing situation for older people.

A number of areas still require to be addressed and improved. The best way of finding out what older people need and want is, of course, to ask them. We need to recognise that everybody’s needs are different, which becomes more apparent as people age and are more likely to become frail, vulnerable or disabled, or to develop long-term health conditions—for example, dementia.

Because their home is where people spend most of their time, an holistic person-centred approach that allows health and social care to work more seamlessly with the housing sector and with older people in their homes is crucial. That is why I was pleased to see another research report—“Housing and Ageing: Linking strategy to future delivery for Scotland, Wales and England 2030”—being presented at Scotland’s Futures Forum last week. The conclusion of that work was to

“Place housing at the heart of service integration”.

Housing provision and support for older people are beginning to become integrated with health and care support needs, but there is a confused picture. Issues remain in social housing provision, including lack of wardens in sheltered housing, lack of choice in smaller rural communities and lack of targets for the number of age-friendly properties in planned new developments. Early intervention and the development of preventative measures such as adaptations and energy efficiency measures remain key.

Secondly, on the community theme, it is imperative to consider not just the buildings themselves but the external environment that the homes are in—the surrounding community, support networks, nearby amenities, transport links and everything else that makes people feel part of a community when they are not at home. New builds and age-friendly designs, downsizing, public transport, accessibility and the urban-rural divide are all issues that older people are concerned about.

I want to turn to the positive contribution that is made by care and repair services. Although care and repair services are largely looked on favourably because of the tasks that they are able to assist with, there is another less obvious benefit to having a handyperson attend a person’s home, and that is the social connection. The availability of care and repair and handyperson services should be consistent across councils. There should be no postcode lottery, but there is: it is a game of chance.

Last year, we lost care and repair services in Inverclyde, West Lothian and North Ayrshire. The previous year, we lost services in South Ayrshire, and it looks as though the service in Angus is under threat. This week, Care and Repair Scotland told me:

“The formation of IJBs has not made our lives any easier. The Act transferred funding for owner occupiers’ disabled adaptations to the IJBs. However, there is still a great deal of confusion about roles and responsibilities.”

Thirdly, on the communication theme, many older people cited lack of knowledge about where to turn to or whom to ask as a reason why they had not sought advice on areas of their lives, and about homes that they needed help with.

I will turn briefly to three of the six recommendations that are contained in the report. First, the planning process should be reviewed to ensure an adequate supply of different types of housing across all tenures. The Planning (Scotland) Bill is going through Parliament, so we can do that. Secondly, people should have greater clarity about how to access the range of support and information services that is available.

Thirdly, adaptations were highlighted as one of the main things that support people to live at home for longer. However, in 2018-19, housing associations outlined the need for £16.9 million of funding to provide adaptations, when the amount that was available was approximately £10 million. It has not been increased in the past six years. That is something that the Local Government and Communities Committee has repeatedly highlighted. We need action.

Given the challenges that we face as a society, the research is timely. It supports the growing evidence base for what older people need and want, it captures examples of good practice and innovation, and it reminds us of what actually works. It must not gather dust. Perhaps today’s debate will help to ensure that it does not.

17:15  

I congratulate Graham Simpson on securing today’s debate, which is allowing us to discuss the report by Age Scotland and the University of Stirling—my alma mater—entitled “Housing through the lens of ageing: Integration, communication and community”.

It is more important than ever for Scotland to be a good place in which to grow old. According to National Records of Scotland, about 20 per cent of our population is aged 65 or over. In my constituency of Cunninghame North in North Ayrshire, the percentage is even higher.

The Scottish Government has already improved the quality of life of older people in Scotland through its most recent strategy on housing for older people, and through the Social Care (Self-Directed Support) (Scotland) Act 2013, free bus travel for over-60s, and free personal and nursing care.

However, we must go further to support older people to live independently and safely in their own homes for as long as possible. That is why I welcome Age Scotland’s excellent contribution to achieving the six key policies that are identified in the Scottish Government’s strategy, “Age, Home and Community: A Strategy for Housing for Scotland’s Older People.” Age Scotland’s report provides insight on how to improve delivery of strategic planning, information and advice, adaptations, housing with care, preventative support and new housing. With more than 75 years’ experience in supporting older people, Age Scotland is perfectly placed to advance constructively the debate around the role of housing in improving the quality of later life.

The report also features a case study on the development of lifetime homes in North Ayrshire, which is a priority for North Ayrshire Council. The scale of the new-build programme is ambitious for a local authority of its size, with plans under way to build 1,732 new high-quality affordable homes by 2023, backed by £102.218 million from the Scottish Government. Given North Ayrshire’s rapidly ageing population, it is increasingly important that new homes are suited to the needs of older people; indeed, a quarter are suitable.

Half of that specialist accommodation will allow the council to provide homes for the people who are most vulnerable and in need of support. One example of the lifetime homes approach is St Beya Gardens in Millport, where 12 bungalows have been built around an attractive and accessible shared outdoor space. Of those, 11 have been constructed to amenity housing standards, while also retaining the flexibility to be adapted further for people with more significant disabilities. The 12th home is fully wheelchair accessible. Phase two of the development will see another 10 amenity homes and five wheelchair-user homes being built next year. The project will be an exemplar for energy efficient and accessible older people’s housing, and will set a benchmark to inform older people’s housing in the future.

Only this afternoon, I attended the official opening in Beith of the refurbished Dickson Court, where 22 older households live independently in sheltered accommodation, following an investment of £2.2 million, including £1.2 million from the Scottish Government. Given his advancing years, Graham “Methuselah” Simpson has already put his name down on the waiting list.

Another exemplary North Ayrshire project is the dementia demonstrator property at Montgomery Court in Kilbirnie, which I have visited. Of the 90,000 people in Scotland with dementia, 2,571 live in North Ayrshire. Age Scotland emphasises the importance of dementia-friendly housing. The dementia demonstrator features specialist design including contrasting objects, walls and floors, which makes them easier to see; floor coverings with large patterns in order to avoid unsettling shiny surfaces; clear signage that is positioned below eye level to indicate the purpose of the room; and extra lights to create brighter spaces. The outdoor space is designed to be attractive and peaceful, and paths are level and easy to navigate. Those small adjustments are easily applicable to traditional or existing homes, and make a difference to people who are living with dementia. In exploring North Ayrshire as a case study, Age Scotland suggests the principle of “weighting” new build towards older people and dementia-friendly design.

Reducing fuel poverty is another element that we must prioritise as we go forward. I am sure that we welcome the Fuel Poverty (Target, Definition and Strategy) (Scotland) Bill that I, Mr Simpson and other Local Government and Communities Committee members have worked on in order to make sure that it meets the needs of Scotland’s most vulnerable groups and communities. The report on the bill will be published at midnight today.

I am confident that Age Scotland’s excellent report will feed into the Scottish Government’s strategy through the age, home and community monitoring advisory group, of which Age Scotland is a member. With that approach to understanding and analysing the needs of older people, we can achieve our aim of supporting all older people in Scotland to live safe, healthy and independent lives at home, for as long as possible.

Before we go any further, I issue a warning to Mr Simpson and Mr Gibson. I am older than both of you. Please be careful about what you say.

17:20  

I thank the older members of the Parliament for allowing a young gun into the debate. This is an important debate, which helpfully follows on from our earlier debate on social isolation and older people. Isolation and housing can often be linked.

As Graham Simpson pointed out, we live in an ageing population. In Edinburgh, 20 per cent of the population is now 65 or over.

In Government—whether it be national Government or local authorities—we often still work in silos rather than looking more broadly. In my experience as a councillor, housing was often left out of the debate on health and social care services. It was often left to a different department or team.

We need a policy on ageing that puts people in the right places with the right networks and the right environment. That is why I welcome the joint report by the University of Stirling and Age Scotland. If a house is not in the right place with the right transport links or accessibility, it is simply not a home. There is a difference between a house and a home. A house is bricks and mortar; a home is somewhere that we feel comfortable, safe and secure. We should all be striving to make sure that old people have such a home.

I welcome the moves by the Local Government and Communities Committee, which considered amendments to the Planning (Scotland) Bill that is going through Parliament, to see what we will do for older people in future. Although some of those amendments might need tidying up and clarification, they show where Parliament wants to go and set the scene for development in the years to come. Too often, housing for older people is simply an afterthought as something that can just be put in. I hope that, whatever amendments are made to the Planning (Scotland) Bill by the time that it gets through Parliament, local authorities will take that issue seriously.

As people get older, they need adaptations to their homes, and that is a challenge for local authorities. Hospital beds are often blocked because older people need such adaptations to be done before they can return to their homes and they often wait months for that to happen. The third sector can work with local authorities and Government in speeding up those services. Most members will be aware of Care and Repair Scotland, which offers advice and assistance with appropriate adaptations being made to a house. The adaptations can be fairly small, but a person might not be able to return to their house without them. I hope that local and national Government will support Care and Repair Scotland and the many other organisations that work across Scotland to do such repairs.

The report is helpful, but Graham Simpson is right to say that if it simply sits on a shelf gathering dust for the next few years, it will have failed. The challenge for us, in and outwith Government, is to take forward the report’s recommendations and make a real difference for older people.

17:24  

I thank Graham Simpson for securing a substantial policy debate. In time, I hope that we will have a full parliamentary debate on the subject. I also thank Andy Wightman, who chaired a packed meeting of the cross-party group on housing, at which we discussed the issue of ageing.

We have heard from Graham Simpson and other members that the number of people aged 75 and over is set to increase by a staggering 85 per cent in the next 20 years. That is a big number. The fact that there are big numbers in this debate tells us that ageing has huge implications for the design of our housing and social policy.

We must ensure that people are able to live safely and independently in homes that are designed for an ageing population and for the needs of each individual, including the support service that they need to live there.

Renting into retirement is an aspect of ageing that scared me when I read about it. The number of people who rent into retirement is on the rise. By 2032, one in eight retirees will be renting. That is a significant extra cost that will have to be met by an increasing number of retired people who are not working and on a low income. The term “generation rent” is often applied to young people, but it is becoming increasingly applicable to pensioners. When people plan for their life after work, few of them take into account the need to pay rent into retirement.

We must encourage people to recognise and understand the financial implications of renting into retirement and we have to take action now. More than a quarter of renters under the age of 45 do not see themselves ever being able to buy a property. For those people who have to rent into their retirement, the estimate is that they will have to spend 42 per cent of their retirement income on their rent. The average renter would need to save £525 a month on top of their pension contributions to afford that, which will be a huge problem for many people.

Recent benefit changes and universal credit will make it even harder for some people, particularly those retirees who have a younger partner. At the moment, a person aged over 65 who is living as part of a couple can claim pension credit regardless of their partner’s age, but from 15 May, such couples will be able to begin to claim only if both partners are over 65. For such couples, that will have substantial costs, which are estimated to be about £7,000 a year.

We need a lot of change and the housing market needs to change to ensure that it better suits older renters. Homes for Scotland points out that new-build homes, including those for private sale, must meet a wide range of accessible requirements, such as the adaptations that Jeremy Balfour talked about, barrier-free access and stair lifts.

We are a long way from the planning system ensuring that that will happen in terms of the number of houses—

A lot of what Ms McNeill describes relates not so much to the planning system, but to the building standards system. She can be assured that we will look at all that, but does she recognise that a huge amount of effort on the part of parliamentary committees and the Government has been on dealing with post-Brexit scenarios? We could not be complacent around building standards on that front.

I am happy to recognise that the Government is not at all complacent about building standards. In this debate, I want to get across that if we are serious about adaptations and people living independently, we will have to go a lot further and be more radical to ensure that that happens.

According to Homes for Scotland, almost three quarters of the stock that was built before 1982 does not have the features that we are talking about. We have heard a lot of talk about downsizing. I believe that the correct term is now “right sizing”; I learned that only today. That is to make it easier for older people to move into smaller homes. We need to plan for a wide range of high-quality options for older people.

Last year, I visited Fife to look at the quality of sheltered accommodation there. It genuinely surprised me. The quality of social housing in that sector shows that it is possible to build sheltered accommodation that is highly desirable, and that must be the standard across the country.

I was grateful to members of the Local Government and Communities Committee for supporting my amendments on local authorities having regard in their development plans to dementia-friendly homes and those who need access for disabilities. Sally Witcher from Inclusion Scotland said that Scotland’s next generation of homes will be without adequate floor space for many disabled people. Being unable to buy or rent sufficiently accessible homes can leave disabled people trapped.

There is a lot to be done in the Parliament and there is a lot that we can agree on. I hope that we can agree that we need to think about the next 20 years to deal with the ageing population and we need to be a little more radical.

17:30  

I am pleased to speak in this timely debate on housing and ageing, and I congratulate Graham Simpson on securing it.

The recent research that was carried out by Age Scotland and the University of Stirling shows that fuel poverty and energy efficiency were key areas of anxiety and worry for older people. I therefore wish to focus my remarks on the positive effect that domestic energy efficiency measures can have on improving the health and wellbeing of the people who receive them, and on tackling a key driver of fuel poverty.

A key feature of the report is the attempt to capture good practice and innovation across Scotland in order to demonstrate what works. I was delighted to learn that the groundbreaking work that is taking place in Ayrshire and further afield, involving the Energy Agency in partnership with NHS Ayrshire and Arran, is to be showcased in the report when it is published, as Kenny Gibson mentioned.

The Energy Agency and NHS Ayrshire and Arran are conducting an evaluation project to investigate the potential benefits of solid wall insulation. It commenced in 2014 as a study before becoming an on-going monitoring and evaluation project that to date has involved more than 350 households across South Ayrshire, East Ayrshire and Dumfries and Galloway, and it has enabled an analysis of the impact of council-led area-based insulation projects. Its report shows that the energy efficiency measures that were carried out, which included improved housing conditions, increased indoor warmth and comfort and reduced fuel bills, can also have a positive impact on health. Health questionnaires that were issued before and after insulation works have indicated improvement in both physical and mental health among people who perceived their home to be much warmer following the insulation works. There have also been anecdotal reports of improvements to existing health conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma, and reports of improved mood following insulation. The findings so far have been impressive, whether they be in relation to the condition of the property, fuel costs or thermal comfort.

I turn now to property conditions. More than nine in 10, or 94 per cent, of respondents agreed that the overall condition of their homes had been improved by the insulation. Respondents reported average fuel bill savings of around £250 per year, which is equivalent to 23 per cent of their fuel costs. The fuel poverty rate fell and the number of properties with a below-average energy efficiency rating decreased from 49 per cent to 21 per cent. With regard to thermal comfort, 88 per cent of respondents agreed that their homes were able to retain heat more efficiently. More than seven in 10, or 78 per cent, of respondents reported that the overall temperature had increased following the insulation work.

The project is examining longer-term health trends in postcodes where wall insulation upgrades have taken place. Clinical data such as hospital admissions are now being investigated in order to compare areas that have received the measures with a control group of similar postcodes that have not yet participated in the scheme.

The report is a serious and robust piece of work and is exactly the type of evidence that we need to inform the development of policy in this area. This project has highlighted the benefits of including a public health perspective in the evaluation of domestic energy efficiency improvements by capturing the real-life experiences of the occupants. We should all welcome it, and I thank Age Scotland for highlighting it in its report.

17:34  

I congratulate Graham Simpson on securing today’s debate. We do indeed need to adjust our focus and to look again at housing policies and priorities in the context of an older population that is growing in size.

Much of our existing housing stock in both the public and private sectors has been built with young people and families in mind, but we know that future demand for older people’s housing will only go up. Existing models such as sheltered and very sheltered housing remain valuable, as we have heard, but new models will also be required in the age of health and social care integration.

I want to focus my lens on one particular new model that has been developed in my home city—indeed, the minister’s home city—of Aberdeen, and which has been showcased by Age Scotland and the University of Stirling in the report that we are debating.

When I took on the role of convener of the Health and Sport Committee a year ago, I soon discovered that the integration of national health service provision and local authority social care was moving at very different speeds in different parts of the country. I had ministerial responsibility for that process of integration between 2005 and 2007, but despite continuing commitment to it from successive Governments, there is clearly still some way to go.

I discovered last year that Aberdeen City health and social care partnership is held up as an exemplar for others to follow, and it is good to be able to highlight a specific aspect of the partnership’s work in this debate.

Delayed discharge can happen for a variety of reasons, but the most common is that there is no suitable accommodation or care package available that would allow a person who is no longer in need of continuous healthcare to leave hospital. Aberdeen City Council has converted what was sheltered housing at Clashieknowe in Bridge of Don to provide interim housing and support for people who are either due to leave hospital or struggling to cope in the community. Clashieknowe has 19 interim housing units catering for adults over the age of 18. Although many residents are older people, this is one of the few services that supports people with complex social care needs who are under 65. Intermediate care and support are provided onsite by the council’s social care provider, Bon Accord Care. Residents are enabled to learn or relearn skills necessary for daily living, from cooking and cleaning to independent mobility and medication.

Key to the success of Clashieknowe is the mutual trust among housing, social work and NHS staff, with effective partnerships among Aberdeen City Council, Bon Accord Care and the health and social care partnership. Another partner is the Disabled Persons Housing Service, a local charity based in Aberdeen; the delayed discharge housing liaison group, the housing needs assessment team and the adapting for change project group have also played important roles.

Aberdeen City Council has also launched interim housing for people with low-level support needs in Cove and in Mastrick in the city, recognising that future provision must span a broad spectrum of needs, abilities and disabilities. Intermediate care and support cost money, of course, but they cost a good deal less than delayed discharge. Initial findings from the Aberdeen project suggest that interim care costs around half the cost of a hospital stay.

Delayed discharge is a challenge not just for the NHS but for housing and social services and I commend the good example of Aberdeen. A person-centred approach, open lines of communication and regular meetings of all concerned are key to success, as is a health and social care partnership with the vision to know what needs to be done and the clout to get on and do it.

17:38  

I will not mention age today in relation to any members; I think that that would be the wrong thing to do. I certainly do not want to face your wrath, Deputy Presiding Officer, and I am very surprised to hear that you are older than Mr Simpson and Mr Gibson. I will leave it at that.

Hear, hear.

I thank Mr Simpson for highlighting this important issue. However, there is a wee bit of confusion: Mr Gibson mentioned the fuel poverty report’s being published at midnight tonight, but it was published at midnight last night.

The “Housing through the lens of ageing” report has not yet been published in full by the University of Stirling; I will be most interested to see everything that it encompasses. I am aware that it recognises many of the issues that are identified in our refreshed strategy, “Age, Home and Community: The Next Phase”. The Scottish Government’s vision is that older people enjoy full and positive lives in homes that meet their needs. The three principles that we think will help to achieve that vision are

“Right Advice, Right Home and Right Support.”

Therefore, it is reassuring that the data that was gathered and analysed by Stirling university validates the importance of appropriate housing, advice and support for Scotland’s older people.

As many members know, Age Scotland is one of our key partners. It was at Age Scotland’s offices in August that I launched our refreshed older people’s housing strategy. During my visit, I took the opportunity to visit Age Scotland’s call centre to hear at first hand requests for help from older people and their families. Issues with housing, health and heating come up daily, so I am pleased to say that this Government has always prioritised tackling fuel poverty by offering assistance to vulnerable households that are struggling to heat their homes.

At this point, I make my usual appeal to members and suggest that if they know of constituents who have difficulties, they get in touch with the award-winning Home Energy Scotland advice line, which does an immense amount in helping to refer people to the right agencies—including the Energy Agency, which John Scott mentioned in his speech.

Last May, I was invited to speak at an event—led by Stirling university—along with Rebecca Evans, who was the Welsh Minister for Housing and Regeneration. The resulting report—“Housing and Ageing: Linking strategy to future delivery for Scotland, Wales and England 2030”—confirmed what we all know, which is that there is still work to be done to address housing and ageing, and not just in Scotland but elsewhere in the United Kingdom, and across Europe.

In Scotland, we have worked with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities and other partners in the health, housing and third sectors to review our original age, home and community strategy, “Age, Home and Community: A Strategy for Housing for Scotland’s Older People: 2012-2021”, in order to better reflect the changing needs of older people. As well as building on existing actions, the refreshed strategy seeks to address the issues of isolation that older people can face, and to improve access to suitable housing.

It has been interesting to hear members highlighting current good practice. Many of the topics that have been raised today have actions in the refreshed strategy—for example, the importance of local care and repair services. I agree with members who highlighted care and repair services; it is disappointing that some local authorities have clawed back on delivery of care and repair. Mr Simpson said that we should try to create uniformity across the country, but there is a balance to be struck—the Government is often accused of centralising. I hope that local authorities will see the benefits of care and repair services and will continue to fund them, because in the long run, funding such services will save them money and stop some of the human costs that result from withdrawal of the services.

Has there been any analysis of the savings that could be made through having services such as care and repair and a fully funded adaptation service?

Off the top of my head, I do not have an answer to Mr Simpson’s question. Analysis has been done, but I do not have specific answers. In my experience, and from talking to occupational therapists in Aberdeen as a constituency member just the other week, I can see quite clearly that spending on adaptations can, as well as improving quality of life, make savings for councils, integration joint boards, health services and so on. Installation of handrails and ramps and adaptation of bathrooms can prevent accidents and unscheduled hospital visits.

Not much has been said in the debate about the link between fuel poverty and mental health. Does the minister agree that that is an area in which more research is needed, because it could potentially bring relief in relation to the increasing level of mental health issues across Scotland?

That has not really been touched on in the debate, although it is an issue that we look at closely. Tackling fuel poverty is a priority for the Government, so we will spend up to £1 billion before the end of this session of Parliament in order to get our approach right.

Beyond the energy efficiency spend and educating folk to use fuel and energy more wisely, we need the UK Government to use the powers at its disposal in relation to energy pricing and incomes so that we can get this right for absolutely everyone. If Mr Scott wants further conversations with me about how we can work together to get the UK Government to play its part, I will be more than happy to have them.

I return to care and repair services, which often offer the small repairs services that are highly valued by older people. The trust that is built up and the social connections that are made are also valuable resources. That is why we have included in the strategy an action on continued support for care and repair services for older home owners. It is important that local authorities fully consider the wider benefits of such services. We will continue to ask older people for their views and opinions to help to inform and monitor the next phase of the strategy.

Lewis Macdonald talked about sheltered and very sheltered housing in Aberdeen, and Mr Gibson gave very good examples of sheltered housing and dementia-friendly housing in North Ayrshire. Those are all good things, but when we talk to people we hear that that is not what everyone wants. I attended the funeral the other week of Mrs Margaret Corall—known as Marnie—who was 102 and was a well-loved woman in Aberdeen. She stayed at home, with some small adaptations, and was very active until near the very end. We must try to allow the Mrs Coralls and others of this world to make that choice, and to live in their family home for as long as possible. It is okay for folks who want sheltered or very sheltered housing—we can do all of that—but we must also make sure that we provide for folks who want to live independent lives in their own homes for as long as they can. That is why we need to continue to listen to people and, beyond that, to align all the services to make sure that that is possible.

In our social housing programme, 91 per cent of it is being delivered with housing for varying needs standards. It is important for the future that people are not in situations such as have been discussed. We must look at what we can do for them.

I could talk about the issue forever, to be honest. However, in conclusion, I say that realising our vision for older people in housing and other respects will require continued effort on the part of the Government, the Parliament and other stakeholders. We must ensure that older people are at the very centre of that effort and have the opportunity to share their concerns and aspirations for the future.

Meeting closed at 17:49.