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How often do you sit in your permanent, affordable and pleasant place to live and think about how things could be different? We often take our homes for granted but they are fundamental to our health and wellbeing, and most of the time we don’t even acknowledge it. Your home allows you to manage poor health or long-term conditions, take care of your wellness, and be supported and cared for in a safe environment.
The financial crisis hasn’t only taken its toll on the corporate wellness of young people – reducing jobs and wages, but access to home ownership is now well-beyond the reach of many young people. This is important because the steady increase in the private rented sector as the only housing option for many will create new health issues, particularly for low income and vulnerable households. Further more, we need to challenge the assumption that all is well for those who already live in owner-occupied housing.
As the population rapidly ages, there is more of a need for older people to be supported and cared for in their own homes instead of having to turn to expensive, acute residential services such as nursing homes and hospitals. However, in order to achieve this goal, older people’s homes need to be fit for the purpose; a warm and accessible environment where care can be provided.
From building to maintaining and managing homes, everything a social housing provider is responsible for has the potential to impact on the health and wellbeing of the communities they serve. Yet the housing sector has been slow in gathering evidence of the impact and outcomes of its work and so too few people are aware of the contribution it makes to public health. Still, the new landscape for health and social care provides an opportunity for housing support commissioners and social landlords to raise their game.
The introduction of welfare reform will bring about a new set of needs and intensify the problems already faced by some people, so what can we do? As it stands, reasons to be optimistic are few and far between, but housing does have the opportunity to contribute to the planning and delivery of health and care services. With the housing sector, we can spot new opportunities for improved collaborative working on local priorities, and hopefully work to achieve a set of shared outcomes that will impact on the health and wellbeing of individuals and our communities.