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Getting started: Vision and leadership


Developing a business plan for housing for older adults is not something a department can do on their own. Delivery and implementation is more effective when everyone works together. The Commission for the Role of Housing in the Future of Care and Support identified local housing partnerships as essential for local areas to create an overarching vision and strategic housing plan for older adults, stating that any plan should be “shaped by the local authority, the NHS, local planning authorities, other local partners, and people who draw on care and support”.

A housing partnership can:

  • Ensure the right people are in the room with the range of expertise needed to develop a robust age-friendly housing strategy.
  • Support co-production and shared decision making with older people and the wider community.
  • Help identify local data, business intelligence and information held by different partners to avoid duplicating effort.
  • Make best use of capacity and funding.
  • Ensure buy-in of any plan, greatly enabling the delivery of the vision and plan.

Who could be part of a housing partnership?

Every local area is different, but some of the key groups that should be involved in local plans for housing for older adults are:

  • Older people and carers, representative groups, charities and community groups.
  • Senior Local Authority (LA) leaders focussed on housing, social care, older adults.
  • LA social services, Occupational Therapists, social workers and community workers.
  • LA housing and planning departments as well as finance/corporate resources, regeneration and growth or improvement that relates to housing and/or older adults.
  • Commissioners, Better Care Fund managers.
  • NHS, community health, Occupational Therapists and mental health leads.
  • Integrated Care Partnerships and Integrated Care Boards (more information) or Health and Wellbeing Boards.
  • Elected members: County, Borough Parish or Town councillors.
  • Builders, planners and architects.
  • Social care and community services providers.
  • General needs and specialist housing providers (LA, housing associations and commercial operators).
  • Developers and housebuilders.
  • Grant makers/funders of housing for older people (e.g Homes England, Greater London Authority).


While a local housing partnership is pivotal in developing a housing plan for older adults that meets the needs of the area, leadership is needed to ensure there is support and buy-in at a senior level, including the local authority and the Integrated Care Partnership.

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) could support the setting out of next steps at a senior level and to demonstrate the ambition of any plan and the development of that plan. This could be based on the national ‘Improving health and care through the home: MOU’.

Case study: The ‘Serious Game’ for building a housing partnership

One of the key challenges to building a local housing partnership is building the right network of people who understand the different roles involved in supporting housing for older people. Strategic leadership starts with finding the creative space to strategically plan for the future. One example of a tool that has helped do this is ‘Hopetown’, a Serious Game facilitated by Socialudo, implementing innovative research led by the University of Stirling. Within the game, players take on different roles, and must negotiate how to use limited resources to maximise the wellbeing of the residents of the fictional Hopetown.

The game is an innovative method to bring together those people in a local area with responsibility for, or stakeholders in, planning of housing options for older adults, and focuses on what could enable them to work together productively. It was piloted in Southwark in October 2023 and the evaluation report can be found here.

Players were a mixture of local authority and wider community stakeholders, and were split into four teams: policy maker, service provider, community group or developer. Each role has a specific aim, but groups must work together if they wish to increase the wellbeing of those in ‘Hopetown’. Real life changes are made over the course of the game, prompting group discussion regarding the consequences of the decisions that have been made. This is the primary way in which the game encourages future planning and strategic thinking, generating knowledge on the barriers to resilient ageing in place, and creating a collaborative tool for communities to co-produce solutions.

Playing the game can in itself spur on the next steps of developing a housing plan by demonstrating to players:

  • The increased need for partnership working between housing, health, and social care sectors.
  • The need for more strategic planning for future demographic change including diverse populations.
  • The way local decision making can be supported to help make future investment decisions about the accommodation choices for an ageing population.

Playing ‘Hopetown’ in Southwark emphasised the importance of some key ways of working including partnerships, ways of communicating (and when), joint decision making and co-production. The benefits of housing for older adults to individuals, but more widely to services and the community was reflected in players comments:

“Health, Housing and Care are all in crisis. If we can work together in spectrum from admission end rather than the discharge end for someone, we have longer to plan it.”

Video of the ‘Hopetown’ game being played in Southwark

Co-producing a business case for older people’s housing

Full toolkit – PDF download

Toolkit for place-based plans for housing for older adults