Spreading the living well message

Our executive director of business growth, Chris Smith updates us about Thirteen's work on its Living Well project.

Chris Smith Social


Over the past few months we’ve been doing loads of work around our ageing population and how Thirteen can play a key role in not only providing good quality homes for people as they age, but also helping people to live well.

To highlight some of the work that Thirteen has done around living well, I presented a special webinar with two of my colleagues – Jayne Lawson and Michelle Dawson –for the Housing LIN (Learning and Improvement Network)

The webinar gave us the opportunity to share some of the research we’ve carried out over the past six months or so, showing people what we’ve learned and the direction our live well project is taking.

Housing LIN is a network that brings together housing, health and social care professionals in England, Wales and Scotland to highlight innovative housing solutions for an ageing population.

So it’s an ideal place to present some of the things we’re working on!

Ageing population

It’s well-known that we have an ageing population.

By 2048, one in four people in the UK will be 65 or over. This will lead to all kinds of issues such as increased numbers suffering from dementia, increased numbers of falls and hospitalisations, and increased numbers of other health issues such as hearing loss, obesity, and heart and lung disease.

The homes we live in - and the way we live in them - play a big role in how successfully we can help people living with a range of conditions. So housing associations and other providers have a key role in helping people live healthy and happy lives as they age.

Part of the Housing LIN webinar highlighted the services that Thirteen does and could offer for customers who might need extra support to live independently – looking at innovative ways to use new design, technology and services.

Community, and the impact that living with others can have on health and wellbeing, is also important to help people live fulfilling lives. Creating homes of the future and helping to develop these communities will see our customers thrive physically and mentally, and live well for longer.


My colleague Jayne Lawson introduced our approach to living well last year, and you can find out more about that in Jayne’s blog post.

Since then, we’ve spent a lot of time researching how our range of services can develop over time to meet the changing needs of our ageing population.

One of the first things we highlighted was that this is an issue which cuts across so many sectors, including housing, health, the care sector, local authorities, charities, national government – to name just a few. We’re all facing similar challenges with providing housing and helping people live at home for longer, so we spoke to so many people and organisations to help with our research.

This included in-depth conversations with staff at Thirteen – many of whom are experts in supporting older people in our extra care and sheltered homes – colleagues from social care, the NHS, national and local experts, and customers living in some of our schemes.

The research – or discovery phase of the living well project – concluded with over 100 Thirteen staff and customers attending an exhibition of our research, and helping us to prioritise our next steps.

The main findings so far have informed us that:

  • it’s not about age: services need to be designed around vulnerability, not age.
  • we should explore more multi-generational housing, close to or in town centres, close to shops, activities and green spaces.
  • the type of building that people want to move into are less important than where they’re located.
  • meaningful activities are important to help people engage in their communities.
  • more could be done to prevent falls and to understand how people living with dementia could be better supported.
  • we need better data about customers to provide better advice and support and explore how technology could solve a range of problems.

All this research takes us onto the next steps and informs the projects and activities we’ll be undertaking over the coming months and years. 

It’s interesting to see all of these issues brought together in one place as it really brings home how many broad and varied areas interact to help people live well. So it’s really important to consider all of these issues together to help us help people live well for the future.  Of course, this is not just about Thirteen and what we can do – it’s about how we work with other partners to get better solutions at the community level.

Working together with partners will be a constant theme throughout this long-term project.

This was brought to life when I was also recently asked to present evidence to a parliamentary select committee. The committee is investigating the future of funding for adult social care, and not only are innovative solutions needed, but funding, people and organisations working together to make the system better, clearer and easier to access is also essential.  It’s the first time that housing has been seen as a vital part of the picture around adult social care.  We have known that for a long time and we have loads of great examples where specialist and supported housing schemes can really enhance peoples lives and enable them to remain independent for longer, but its heartening to see that Government has recognised this too!

This is a really interesting piece of work for Thirteen and all our partners, and we’ll be posting regular updates about the project. But in the meantime, if you’d like to find out more or get involved in the living well project, we’d be happy to chat.

Contact us at hilab@thirteengroup.co.uk or follow us on our social channels:

  • Twitter: @HiLab_Thirteen
  • Linkedin: HiLab