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Old people, consumerism and solving the housing crisis

Most people are too euphimistic about aging and death to discuss them in the context of a skeleton. Not, it seems, developer Roger Black, judging by this screen grab from his Archiboo talk.

Most people are too euphimistic about aging and death to discuss them in the context of a skeleton. Not, it seems, developer Roger Black, judging by this screen grab from his Archiboo talk.

In fact the juxtaposition was coincidental, since the talk was taking place in The Old Operating Theatre Museum, but Black could have anaged plenty of shock value without the juxtaposition. 

Thoughts on provision of care for older people are changing radically, he says, with the imminent introduction of the CAre Bill. At present, he says, people are staying in their homes for as long as possible until they have to move into care homes which they hate and cost the state lots of money.

How much better if they moved out of their unsuitable homes earlier, Black argued, into lovely and appropriate new homes, freeing up family houses, which would go a long way to solving the shortage of available homes. They would be less likely to need to go to care homes, they would be happier and therefore live longer, and the end-of-life crisis would typically be shortened from a couple of years in a care home to a few weeks of intensive care. 

The important element, Black said, is to remember that older people are also consumers today. Current housing for older people is outdated and horrible, in the wrong place (‘the countryside’ he sneered) and has a low resale value because it is so unattractive. Black is now creative director of Pegasus Life, working with an impressive roster of architects to provide this housing. He has an interesting property history, including helping turn around once struggling Ballymore. He says that what has to sell now is ‘experience’, something in which architecture plays an important role but not the only part.

He is persuasive and interesting. The talk is well worth watching and the results of his endeavours should be fascinating once they come on the market.

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