Appropriate housing can improve health and well being; but poor housing conditions has been proven to damage health, particularly in relation to asthma, damp and mould. In children, the effects can last a lifetime, the relationship between health and housing is very apparent.
Health and Housing
Risk factors include:
- Indoor damp and mould problems
- Carbon monoxide
- Second-hand smoke
- Injuries and poisonings
- Indoor temperature
- Indoor air quality
Recent surveys of homes in Wales [from Living in Wales 2004 and 2008
] found that around one in 20 or 5% were ‘unfit’, mainly because of problems with poor ventilation, poor heating or damp.
Housing and injuries
Around a third of all injuries happen at home. This is partly because of the amount of time we spend at home, but also because of the wide range of hazards that we face in the home.
The stairs are the most dangerous place, accounting for more than a quarter of all home injuries, followed by the garden and kitchen.
Housing and asthma
Asthma is exacerbated by poor housing conditions, mainly damp and mould, and particularly for children. In some cases, poor housing has been shown to cause asthma.
Indoor temperature and fuel poverty
Indoor air temperature can have significant impacts on both physical and mental health; effectiveness of heating can range from around 82% in the private rental sector to 95% in owner occupied homes.
Implementing interventions to improve warmth and energy efficiency can improve general health, mental health and respiratory health, especially when targeted at those with inadequate warmth and those with chronic respiratory disease.
Warmth improvements were also associated with increased useable space, increased privacy and improved social relationships. Work and school absences due to illness were also reduced.
Housing condition (including damp, cold, mould, air quality, fuel use and fuel expenditure) is also generally improved by warmth improvements.
Warmth and energy efficiency improvements included heating installation, insulation and double glazing. There is little evidence of negative impacts of home improvement.
Last week we attended Community Housing Cymru’s Annual Conference ‘Housing Future’s’. During which we witnessed the agreement between Community Housing Cymru and Public Health Wales, committing the organisations to working more closely together to improve the lives and health of people in the most deprived communities in Wales.
A Memorandum of Understanding signed on 19 November 2015 will ensure that the organisations work together to identify common problems and develop joint solutions. The memorandum is a commitment to a joint focus on prevention and early intervention, to ensuring work is informed by the best national and international evidence and to taking action to empower communities to improve health and wellbeing.
The commitment will also enable the establishment of a joint Health and Housing Public Health Task Group including key representatives from health, housing, community and social care.
As a provider to the housing and health sectors, we welcome this memorandum. We were also encouraged by the presentation given by Dr Tracey Cooper, Chief Executive of Public Health Wales explaining the case, commitment and passion of both sectors into collaborating to find solutions to these challenges. We have shared an earlier presentation of Dr Cooper’s ‘United in improving health in Wales’ on our media page.
Access the full press release, testimonials & further details on the memorandum here.