The impact of age-friendly housing (and care) policies on eVITA

Belinda Fewings

As eVITA technology will enter into people’s homes, it will be interesting to look at age-friendly housing policies and to a lesser degree at care policies insofar they pertain to living at home. If you’re interested in other ageing policies and their impact on e-VITA have a look at this article (click here).


The national housing adaptation plan provides several schemes to finance work to enable older people to live at home as long as possible 1) micro-credits; 2) Expansion of the ‘home adaptation’ tax credit which allows all older people to benefit from it; 3) “aid for adapting housing to ageing” of up to 5,000 EUR to make bathrooms and toilets accessible; 4) Assistance for most disadvantaged older people can cover up to 100% of the cost of adaptation work.

Law No. 2015-1776 of 28 December 2015 on adapting society to ageing was also an important step forward. This law strengthened support at home and asserted the principle of free choice for older people throughout their lives. The law states, that while health problems are often the primary cause of loss of autonomy, environmental factors can be also aggravating or, on the contrary, can ease or even reduce their impact on daily life. Therefore, the development of the living environment, from individual housing to collective spaces in neighbourhoods, cities or villages, is considered as an important element that can bring significant benefits for older people.

The “Healthy Ageing” strategy (2020-2022) reaffirms the importance of cooperation of different stakeholders – public authorities, local authorities, companies and associations – to adapt the entire living environment and guarantee the autonomy of older people.


The creation of equal living conditions throughout Germany is one of the Federal Government’s declared policy action targets. Various targets and measures were passed in 2019 and included expanding accessibility options. Only 1.5 per cent of residences in Germany are currently barrier-free. The “Age-appropriate Conversion” programme supports private owners and tenants, regardless of income and age, in applying for allowances or loans to eliminate barriers in residential buildings and make structural alterations. Measures have been implemented in around 720,000 residential units since the programme began in 2010.

The long-term care insurance fund can also pay – as needed and upon application – up to 4,000 EU as an allowance for adjustment measures for people grouped in care levels 1 to 5. These adaption measures aim to enable or simplify at-home care, or to enable the person in need of care to return to independent living to the greatest extent possible. If several people in need of care live in one household, for instance in a residential group, then long-term care insurance can cover up to 16,000 EUR.

The Federal government has set-up multiple age-friendly housing initiatives:

  •  “Shared Housing, Self-Determined Lives” programme and the 34 projects funded by it, the Federal Government has further stimulated communal forms of living that can help older persons lead independent lives;
  • “Life as usual”: using digital, technical, and electronic aids; ensure inclusive, communal, and barrier-free housing; facilitate mobility and participation;
  • “Dying where you live and are at home”: maintaining autonomy and social participation in a hospice and palliative care setting at home;
  • “Living in old Age”: shared housing, age-appropriate conversions of housing, ambient-assisted living, local support and advisory services and neighbourhood support schemes. They also support the availability of social services and improve living conditions to facilitate remaining in one’s own home.


The national programme by the Ministry of Health “Gaining Health: make healthy choices easy” foresees a set of interventions relating to improving private (e.g., homes) and public environments and mobility within cities. To make private housing more age-friendly, namely making a home more accessible, a series of tax bonuses and deductions are available. Among the latest measures, Law 178/2020, has extended the 110% bonus (intended to encourage energy efficiency in buildings and promote economic recovery in the building sector) to actions aimed at eliminating architectural barriers (e.g., elevators and freight elevators), or aimed at the creation of technological tools that facilitate mobility inside and outside the home for people over 65 years of age.

As part of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (EU funding to recover from Covid-19) significant infrastructure investment is foreseen to prevent institutionalisation through housing solutions and innovative equipment (assisted housing, social housing, telemedicine, community homes and hospitals) to achieve and maintain maximum autonomy, with the support of home care services.


The General Principles of Universal Design Policy by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport from 2005 aims to promote barrier-free public facilities across Japan, including transport systems, housing projects and public areas. This is done through both physical alteration of infrastructures and usage of ubiquitous network technology (=precursor of the Internet Of Things technology). The policy consists of guidelines on how to implement universal design into physical infrastructures, including the continuous removal of barriers to support uninterrupted movement by users. Even though over 25,000 housing units have been built with accessibility features, that only accounts for about 1% of Japan’s total public housing. As most public housing units were built in the 1970s and 80s, retrofitting work is required to increase the percentage of accessible housing.

The policy only extends to public housing/spaces, no specific policies pertaining to private homes could be identified.

In terms of care, municipalities are required to implement home medical care and long-term care coordination promotion projects to enable older people to live longer in their own homes.

Recommendations for e-VITA

e-VITA should provide information to older persons on age-friendly housing policies that may improve their living conditions for example the national housing adaptation plan including micro-credits, tax credits, financial assistants for bathrooms and toilets (France), funding through the “equal living conditions”, “shared housing, self-determined lives”, ‘Life as usual’, “Living in old age” programmes or the long-term care insurance fund (Germany), tax bonuses and deductions through Law 178/2020 (Italy). In Japan, residents of public housing units may benefit from the General Principles of Universal Design Policy.


Policy Department for Economic, Scientific and Quality of Life Policies (2021) Ageing policies – access to services in different Member States; MIPAA+20 country reports – France, Germany, Italy; Voluntary National Survey on the Implementation of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (MIPAA) in Asia and the Pacific – Japan