HOOP (Housing Options for Older People) is an advice tool with a long history.
Created by academics Frances Heywood and Robin Means in 1999, HOOP aimed to provide a structure for discussion between housing advisors and their older clients. It took heed of what Frances and Robin had previously helped us all understand about the complexity of housing decision-making in later life, of the ‘push’ and ‘pull’ factors many older people have to grapple with when facing the basic question ‘Should I stay or should I move?’
It articulated that a serious ‘housing options’ service needed to be able to provide information and discussion to help people understand and evaluate the options open to them. And it flagged strongly that for many clients difficult trade-offs would be necessary as they came to assess the plusses and minuses of each of their potential housing options. HOOP also took seriously the reality there might be no easy way back from some housing decisions taken in later life.
The first HOOP tool took the form of a set of discussion prompts and questions designed to open up conversation with a client about different aspects of their current home, how well it worked for them now, and how it might work in the future. Prompts and questions were grouped under topics such as Size and Space, Comfort and Design, Location, Costs, Security and Safety. Clients were encouraged to award scores for each aspect or ‘topic’ discussed, to identify any one thing that had particularly affected their scoring, and to say whether there was any information that might be useful to them in relation to the topic. Finally clients were asked about their priorities – which of the topics discussed mattered most to them.
From the discussion the interviewer/advisor would take away a list of information requested by the client, while the client would be left with a graphical summary of the views they had expressed. In a follow-up appointment discussion would home in on the client’s priorities, aided by the information materials provided by the advisor.
A self-assessment HOOP questionnaire (‘Mini HOOP’) was devised in 2010, and variants of this are used extensively by local advice services – usually with the offer of an advice session after completion.
The first HOOP web ‘app’ appeared in 2011 and evolved by early 2020 into its current form. The app is localised to each user, and semi-automates the delivery of information to users by drawing on EAC’s extensive library of information materials and directories of local services and accommodation. Additional localisation can be achieved through the input of local knowledge and materials by partner organisations. HOOP app users can opt to submit their HOOP session to EAC to arrange an appointment with an advisor.