UK study highlights benefits of fixing dangerous homes

Wednesday, 12 June, 2024

UK study highlights benefits of fixing dangerous homes

Poor quality housing places undue financial pressure on both social care and health systems, according to the UK Centre for Ageing Better.

An analysis also reveals that people living in poor housing develop care needs eight years earlier than people living in a home without any housing problems.

“There is a terrible personal cost for older people who live in homes that are making them ill and which have the potential to seriously injure and even kill them,” said Dr Carole Easton OBE, Chief Executive at the Centre for Ageing Better.

“Older people are more likely to live in a dangerous, damp or cold home and are among the most vulnerable to the health impacts, which can exacerbate conditions such as asthma and arthritis, as well as increasing the risk of an acute episode such as a stroke or heart attack.”

The research also found that removing the most serious risks to people’s health and safety from the country’s poorest quality homes — where the head of household is 55 or over — would result in savings to the NHS of nearly £600 million per year.

In addition, formal care costs for older people provided by professional caregivers could be reduced by £1.1 billion a year by 2027 by resolving poor quality home issues, according to new analysis by academics at the Care Policy and Evaluation Centre (CPEC), based at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

“Our study clearly shows how poor quality and unsuitable housing can increase people’s care needs and their ability to live independently, negatively affect wellbeing and reduce choice,” said Dr Nicola Brimblecombe, senior researcher at the Care Policy and Evaluation Centre and lead of the LSE research project (CAPE).

“Improving housing has the potential to improve people’s quality of life, reduce health and care inequalities, and save money for government as well as having wider benefits to the environment and society. Negative effects of poor housing for social care can be long-term — action to improve poor quality housing cannot come soon enough.”

The research suggests that even just removing three common health hazards from homes of bad condensation, excess cold and rising damp would lower the social care costs considerably.

The academics also point out the effects of poor housing are not experienced equally, with housing tenure, financial resources and access to information all playing a role in development of care needs and in extent of unmet need for support.

Image credit: Trade

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