James' view

James McCarthy is our head of retirement housing. He shares his view on how we define housing:

"I watch a little TV and one of my current regulars is 'You can’t get the staff' on Channel 4.

The show highlights well to do people who are looking for staff such as butlers and housekeepers. This week’s show included one lady of the house who said she wanted younger employees who would have more energy than her existing aging employees.

It reminded me of the Age UK report which found that while there was evidence of decline in some physical attributes in some, but not all, older workers, there was little sign of a decline in overall productivity because older workers compensated with skills and experience.

At Housing & Care 21 we are trying to be mindful of the vocabulary that we use to describe the accommodation and services that we provide. If we use the traditional terminology “Sheltered Housing” to describe some of our housing where we don’t provide personal care, then it might suggest to anyone who wasn’t familiar with the accommodation we provide that we are sheltering or protecting vulnerable older people.

It infers that the residents all need “sheltering” when all they expect is good quality accommodation that provides value for money and perhaps some companionship. We might use “Retirement Housing” to describe the accommodation, but many of Housing & Care 21’s older residents are fully employed.

It is important that we avoid enforcing stereotypes by the things that we say".