Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, 2019-2021. The principal aim of the DICE Project is to explore the social inclusion of older people from socially diverse backgrounds in housing with care and support (HCS) schemes in England and Wales. By socially diverse, we mean older people (60+ years of age) who identify with social characteristics that are sometimes marginalised or subject to discrimination. This includes people with physical and learning disabilities, LGB sexual identities and trans identities, black and ethnic minority people, and people who are members of different religions. We want to develop a better understanding of the ways in which housing providers seek to promote residents' human rights and social participation within their schemes and to identify good practices for making residents feel included that we can share with other housing providers, both nationally and internationally.
Housing with care and support models – such as extra-care, sheltered housing and supported living – are increasing in number in the UK and are seen as a viable way of supporting older people's independent living with additional support. However, little is known about how these living environments support older residents from social minority backgrounds or seek to ensure that all residents feel equally valued and included. The DICE Project will address this knowledge gap through research and will, in turn, develop learning resources to better inform service delivery recommendations to improve social policy concerning HCS.
Our overarching questions are:
1. To what extent do residents currently perceive themselves as included and valued in their home environments?
2. What current approaches and practices support and sustain the social inclusion of residents from social minority or marginalised social backgrounds in HCS schemes?
3. How effective are social inclusion practices and approaches in HCS schemes in recognising and valuing residents' social identities and diverse life-histories?
4. How do residents from diverse social backgrounds experience the relocation and transition into HCS schemes over time?
We will address these questions through a questionnaire for residents across participating schemes in England and Wales; interviews with staff, managers and residents in selected schemes; interviews with stakeholders involved in local commissioning and advocating for the rights of older people in HCS schemes; and longitudinal interviews with a small sample of older adults from socially diverse backgrounds who have recently relocated into HCS schemes. Information gathered from across these different sources will provide an in-depth understanding of how older residents of HCS schemes experience inclusion practices and the ways in which scheme staff, managers and stakeholders seek to promote social inclusion within schemes. A key aim of the project is to identify good practices and to establish ways in which not-so-good practice can be improved in order to benefit the social wellbeing of older adults in HCS schemes, bolster against feelings of exclusion, social isolation and marginalisation, and promote social cohesion more broadly across these schemes.