The Need for Healthy Homes
Town and Country Planning Association's Healthy Homes Act sets out to create a clear definition of what a healthy home should be and to bring in a law that would require all homes to meet this standard:
'Our Senior Programme Manager for Homes, Henry Smith, looks at how we tackle the current housing crisis and make new and existing homes suitable for everyone.
Our homes play a central role in our health and wellbeing, with the potential to greatly improve our quality of life. But sadly, far too many people are living in homes that are unsuitable for their needs and dangerous to their health. For decades, a lack of effective policy has led to our current crisis where there is a lack of decent, accessible and affordable housing in this country.
The Centre for Ageing Better, together with The King’s Fund, recently published a report highlighting the links between poor housing, health and COVID-19. We know that living in a cold, damp home is linked to several chronic health problems, including respiratory and cardiovascular conditions and rheumatoid arthritis. Not to mention the negative impact that being cold and worrying about how to pay the heating bill has on our mental health.
Homes that do not meet our accessibility needs can restrict our lives and greatly increase the likelihood of falls – and currently 91% of existing homes don’t even have the four basic accessibility features that make them ‘visitable’ to most people. Vitally, accessible and good quality housing can help us to remain living independently for longer, with huge subsequent savings for individuals, to the NHS and social care.
With the majority of us spending more time in our homes than ever before due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and the connection between the severity of the virus and conditions linked to poor quality homes, it’s crucial we improve our poor housing stock.
As well as tackling our poor existing housing, it’s imperative that we start building the right homes for the future. In the next twenty years, there will be a huge age shift in our society with one in four of us aged over 65 – and in just ten years, half of all adults will be over 50. As the number of people aged 50 and over increases, so too does the proportion of the population with disability, accessibility and mobility requirements. We need to build with this in mind and make sure new homes are suitable for all ages and abilities.