A trio of housing associations has teamed up to launch a new company to improve support for an ageing population by offering home adaptations that are more ‘chic’ than clinical.
Johnnie Johnson Housing (JJH), Karbon Homes and Anchor Hanover have collaborated over the past year to create the new business, which they claim will future-proof housing stock and support people to live independently in their homes for longer.
Invisible Creations Limited was founded to create “inclusive and attractive” home adaptations and new ranges of innovative product solutions, all intended to aid mobility and better support people as they age.
Research from the Centre for Ageing Better shows that many people delay securing home adaptations because of their clinical appearance and negative associations with vulnerability and loss of independence.
The design of current equipment offered is practical rather than attractive and practitioners spoke of clients feeling adaptations ‘echo hospitals’ or that they ‘spoil the décor’.
Delays to home adaptations often leave older and disabled people living in unsuitable and degrading conditions. By adopting the approach of early installation, the company aims to delay the need for formal care, reduce the financial burden on the NHS and help the housing sector improve tenancy sustainment.
“At Johnnie Johnson we’re absolutely delighted to be working with partners to lead the way in revolutionising adaptations,” said Yvonne Castle, chief executive of JJH, and chair of the new company. “It’s been great to work with likeminded organisations like Karbon, Anchor Hanover and the National Housing Federation to make this happen.
“We all have a desire to create adaptations that aren’t the ugly looking ones that are in the marketplace at the moment. We should all be able to age in our own homes and be proud of how they look. That’s the aim of our joint new company Invisible Creations. It’s an exciting time for innovation in housing.”
The idea for Invisible Creations emerged from the National Housing Federation’s, Creating our Future Programme in 2018. The award-winning innovation programme provides a platform for housing associations to collaborate on a sector-wide scale to tackle housing’s biggest social challenges.
The company’s now director of marketing, Laura Wood, and head of product design, Paul Pentelow, spearheaded a project team as part of the initiative that came up with the new company.
In a Dragons’ Den-style environment, the business idea was pitched by the entrepreneurial duo to more than 800 housing sector leaders and scrutinised by a panel of industry experts.
“We are delighted to support Invisible Creations, which is the fruition of many months of research and development,” said Jo Ray, executive director of customer services at Karbon Homes. “We know from our extensive experience of providing homes and support for older residents, that people often put off having adaptations installed in their homes until after they have experienced a fall or a stay in hospital.
“The products offered by Invisible Creations will encourage residents to consider installing adaptations earlier, which we hope will enable them to live independently for longer in their homes.”
Invisible Creations has been set up to provide “dual-purpose and discreet” home adaptations, and are developing a range of extended product solutions, which can be strategically placed around the home to help reduce decline in health and make daily living easier.
The key driver is prevention; by providing more attractive, dual-purpose products, that are desirable rather than off-putting, Invisible Creations aim to get these installed in homes earlier, therefore preventing falls sooner and supporting people to live independently for longer.
Anchor Hanover’s chief financial officer, and Invisible Creations board member, Sarah Jones said: “As England’s largest not-for-profit provider of housing and care for older people, we understand the importance of attractive adaptations in the home which can enable people to live independently for longer.”
Main Image: (Left to right) Sheila Webster, the inspiration behind Invisible Creations and Laura Wood’s gran; Laura Wood, co-founder and marketing director; and Paul Pentelow, co-founder and head of product design.