In our latest report covering 2021, and published in September 2022, Trustees provided this overview of the year:
The detailed work that we have done over the last year to understand the new landscape of information and advice services to older people and their families has been sobering, but is proving enormously helpful in thinking about EAC’s future role.
EAC’s starting point, since its inception in 1985, is that ageing successfully requires thinking and planning ahead to ensure that the home we live in is ‘age friendly’ and the support services we might need are available, accessible and affordable. We were the first national organisation to devise an information and advice service dedicated to helping people to do this, and over the years we encouraged and supported the creation of similar local services in many parts of the country.
But our recent fact-finding has shown how patchy and precarious the availability of fully independent ‘housing and care options’ advice services has become. This is against an increasingly sombre backdrop of Covid’s lingering impact on older people, continuing delays to reform and re-funding of social care, the re-emergence of pensioner poverty and the reality of a national housing stock still largely unfit to age in, and now even more expensive to heat in winter – and indeed to keep cool in summer.
We fully understand why other larger charities, as well as local authorities, both with substantially reduced incomes, feel they need to focus their resources on fewer priorities, and on immediate and urgent problems. However, warm, accessible, comfortable housing and support are critical to older people’s quality of life and, for many, independent information and advice is an essential stepping stone to achieving this.
We recognise too that EAC’s historically universal service offer faces increasingly stiff competition from more commercial advice services vying for the ‘self payer’ end of the care and retirement living markets.
So, as we continue to work on our forward plan, we are clear that our imperative must be to find a way of using the comparatively limited resources we have, our connections, IP assets and expertise, to make maximum impact on the availability and quality of ‘housing options’ information and advice to those many older people who remain poorly served.
It has been a challenging period of research and reflection for both trustees and staff – but at the same time a liberating and exciting journey. We still have conversations to complete, and further work to do. But our intention is to focus the charity’s strategic objectives, operations, staffing and partnerships around a realistic appraisal of how EAC can most effectively deliver its mission in an increasingly volatile, fragmented and competitive environment.
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