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Step one: Understanding demand in your local area

Three older women laughing together


The first step is about drawing on existing data and information to understand your local population and current and future demand for housing, particularly for older people. It involves: 

  • collecting and analysing local demographic, economic, health, social care and housing trends data 
  • identifying local needs and preferences for housing in later life 
  • carrying out demand projections for different types of housing.  

It is important that the information collected reflects the diversity of the local population, for example different ethnic groups, LGBTQ+ communities, disabled people, people living with dementia and people with visual or hearing impairments. This information will help inform your business case by helping potential investors understand the local context and current and projected demand for different types of housing that meet older people’s specific needs, across different localities. 

Key questions

You will need to collect and analyse data to address the following questions: 

  • What do we know about our local population? 
  • What do we know about trends in housing and living arrangements? 
  • What is the economic status of the older population and what proportion of older people would be eligible for social and/or means restricted options (e.g. sheltered housing)?
  • What do we know about housing needs and preferences? 
  • What are the projections for local demand for housing? 

How to

You will need to: 

Outline a demographic overview and socio-economic profile of the local population, focusing particularly on older people. For example, you should highlight age groups, ethnic groups, gender, deprivation, life expectancy, health issues, prevalence of dementia, disability, care and support needs, care and support eligibility status, people who fund their own care and support, and unmet needs, etc.

Highlight any relevant differences across different localities in the local area. Outline local projections about population growth, particularly for older people and projected changes in any relevant demographics.

You can draw on resources such as Census data, ONS population projections, Public Health Profiles, local joint strategic needs assessments and ASCOF and SALT datasets.

  • Identify the number of older people in mainstream housing, tenure types, the number of older people in different types of housing with care and support, the number of older people that are able to afford and/or are eligible for different types of housing with care and support. Consider data on household size and composition, and any information on older people living in unsuitable/non-decent homes. It is important to highlight how this data differs across age groups, gender, ethnic groups, disabled people and any other demographic groups that you think will provide valuable insight. You can also highlight differences across different localities in the local area.  
  • Identify what is known nationally and locally about what older people value about housing in later life, the factors that may contribute to people moving in later life and people’s views on different types of housing, including housing with care and support. You can draw on existing consultations and research with local people and/or national publications.  
  • Use current and projected populations of older people and employing projection tools and models to identify projected demand for different types of housing. This can be done by using internally developed bespoke models or various existing tools such as Housing for Older People Supply Recommendations (HOPSR).   

Sources of information and resources  

Partners to involve  

Partners for this step can both identify and agree the types of information that are needed and help identify relevant data that organisations collect but others may not be aware of. It is also important to involve partners with the necessary skills to conduct the analysis described above, whether these are local authority staff or commissioning organisations that specialise in demographic analysis. 

  • Local authority service managers and commissioners across adult social care, housing, data and research. 
  • Integrated Care Partnership, local Healthwatch, housing associations.
  • Local older people’s forum, representative groups, charities and community groups, particularly organisations representing or working with older people, e.g. Age UK, carer organisations.   


The ‘I’ and ‘We’ statements below are illustrative examples of co-production outcomes associated with this step. We encourage housing partnerships to adapt them as they see fit to best reflect their local context. 

For individuals:   

  • I describe the local housing needs and preferences for older people.  
  • I help decide what type of demographic information and data should be prioritised to understand our local population.  
  • I help define projections of future change in population demographics and say what impact these changes will have in housing for older people. 

For the partnership:

  • We have conversations to hear about key information that local people would like to have to better understand housing demand.  
  • We make the information and data to be gathered and analysed accessible to individuals and facilitate their engagement in the decision-making process.   
  • We share information and data about population and demographic projections in accessible ways and involve individuals in defining projections of change and the impact of this on housing for older people.   

Further information about the benefits of and principles of co-production, plus examples of co-production in the housing sector.

Case study: Central Bedfordshire – demand projection

Central Bedfordshire developed their own local framework to establish the need for specialist housing schemes for older people over a 20-year plan period (2015-2035).

Whilst, other tools exist, they only provide standardised rates for estimating demand for specialist older person housing and do not take into account local data. To develop this local framework Central Bedfordshire used their Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) household projections, and data collected from a survey about the proportion of households planning to move and likely to choose this type of housing. They used the Elderly Accommodation Council’s approach of separating housing into two forms of provision: housing with support (including sheltered housing) and housing with care (including extra care).

Central Bedfordshire identified:  

  • The likely need for specialist older person housing with support.   
  • The likely need for specialist older person housing with care.   
  • The likely need for specialist older person housing overall. 

To further support effective planning decisions, Central Bedfordshire then went on to break down the need for owner-occupied homes and rented homes under each category and calculate housing need at a CCG locality level using parish level data from the 2011 Census.   

Using a local framework made a difference. The local framework identified lower levels of need for both housing with support and housing with care than when the standardised approaches were used, in this case ‘More Choice, Greater Voice’ and SHOP (Strategic Housing for Older People Analysis Tool). 

Step two: Map current provision of housing for older adults

Full toolkit – PDF download

Toolkit for place-based plans for housing for older adults