Sheltered housing saves the NHS and social care services £486m+ per year

A new report from cross-party think tank Demos urges the Government to exclude older people’s housing from proposals to cap Housing Benefit for people in sheltered housing, finding that sheltered housing saves the UK’s cash-strapped NHS and social services at least £486m per year.

Sheltered housing provides independent, self-contained housing for older people, with wardens, alarms or other on-site staff to provide 24-hour support and security. Demos identifies the savings to NHS and emergency and social care services from sheltered housing as at least:

  • £300m per year from reduced length of in-patient hospital stays
  • £12.7m per year from fall prevention by residents of sheltered housing
  • £156.3m per year from prevention of falls which result in hip fractures
  • £17.8m per year from reduced loneliness experienced by residents

Britain’s ageing population is imposing significant costs on the NHS and social care providers, with Demos finding that each year, 600,000 older people attend A&E following a fall, and around a third of them are admitted to hospital. Every year 300,000 people over 65 are hospitalised for a hip fracture.

In light of these statistics, Demos highlights how sheltered housing presents a very effective resource to tackle the primary drivers of health and care costs among older people – namely, poorly insulated houses, falls and loneliness.

Area of saving from sheltered housing Estimated cost to NHS/social services Cost saving from sheltered housing
Reducing inpatient stays (all) £520 million per year £300 million
Reducing inpatient stays (following an emergency admission specifically) £428 million per year £156 million
Averting falls – savings to ambulance and A&E £115 per call out

£2,108 per admission

£1.79 million

£10.98 million

Averting falls – savings to hospital care for hip fractures £ 3 billion per year £79.5 million
Averting falls – savings to post-treatment bed days specifically for hip fractures £300 per day £47.3 million
Averting falls – savings to all health and social care for hip fractures £20,000 per fracture £156.3 million
Reducing loneliness – reduced health service use £714 million per year £17.8 million[1]

[1] This assumes loneliness would be halved in sheltered housing, based on data from retirement housing and excluding many costs related to loneliness – therefore a significant underestimate

Commenting on the findings, the report’s author, Claudia Wood, Chief Executive at Demos said:

“Sheltered housing for older people is a low-cost, high-impact service which saves the state huge sums of money. Considering the NHS is currently under enormous financial pressure, capping the Housing Benefit of those who live there seems to be another self-defeating benefit cut”

Commenting on the findings, Howard Nankivell, Operations Director at Anchor Housing said: 

“This research demonstrates the valuable role that sheltered housing plays; providing enormous benefits for individuals while saving money for the state. It is crucial that we in the sector work with government to achieve their objectives and secure appropriate housing for the older people of today and tomorrow” 

For more information about this research project, please contact:

Eva Charalambous – Communications Manager, Demos
[email protected] | 020 7367 4200 | (Out of Hours) 07804252211