Rural housing report uncovers needs of ageing population

A new report from leading community housing provider Horizon Housing is shining a light on lack of provision of appropriate housing in rural areas, deeming it largely unable to meet the needs of our ageing population.


The My Home, My Place report, funded by the Queensland Department of Communities, Disability Services and Seniors, is the first of its kind to examine the housing needs of older people living in key rural communities.


Focusing on the Maranoa region of Queensland, the report uncovered broader issues for exploration in rural towns across the country that face similar harsh environmental conditions and associated housing design challenges.


The report found that over 65 per cent of rural residents live in detached homes or on more than five acres, exposing them to unique liveability challenges when compared to their metropolitan counterparts.


Horizon Housing CEO Jason Cubit said despite more than 96 per cent of participants intending to age in place, the regions were not currently equipped to allow them to do so.


“For ageing Australians living in rural areas, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain a home in an environment where searing temperatures, drought and other extreme factors are expected,” Mr Cubit said.


“More than 64 per cent of our participants wanted modifications to their existing home to allow them to remain there safely as they age, yet 73 per cent are not seeking advice on how to do so. We also found that over half did not know how to arrange an assessment to access modifications to remain in their home.


“A surprising and unexpected finding from this report was that 13 per cent of the older people we engaged with were a couple caring for a child/grandchild or grandchildren. This has significant implications for their future housing needs as they age.”


Mr Cubit said the survey findings were vital as they paved the way for future nation-wide research to address this issue and inform the development of future accommodation solutions for older people living in rural and remote areas across the country.


“Housing is an integral part of a person’s wellbeing. The concept of home is fundamental to a person's identity and for older people, there is a sense of pride that comes with living independently,” he said.


“The My Home, My Place report reinforces the fact that older people living in our rural towns face unique challenges, yet most of the available programs and services focus on those in urban areas. It’s critical that government and service providers work to address the issue of the housing needs of older people in these regions.


“Thanks to the funding from the Department of Communities, Disability Services and Seniors, 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.


“We have a significant presence in Queensland’s Maranoa region, with 45 per cent of tenants in the area over 55. Our oldest tenant is 95 years old and still living independently. 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.”


My Home, My Place is the nation’s first research study to understand and address housing needs of older people in rural areas. Led by Horizon Housing, My Home, My Place report engaged with more than 200 people in the Maranoa region to uncover key insights into the unique liveability challenges these residents face.


Horizon Housing is part of the Community Housing Limited Group, Australia’s largest not-for profit community housing provider with over 11,000 community and affordable housing properties across six states.


Download the report My home my place: Housing Needs of Older People Living in a Rural Community.


7 May 2019.