HEALTH IMPACT OF HOUSING WORK
A PIONEERING study is to be carried out to assess the health impact of housing improvements in Carmarthenshire.
Housing chiefs say that better living conditions lead to health benefits and improved wellbeing.
Research shows cold and damp conditions can exacerbate cardiovascular diseases, respiratory symptoms and infections, and are also linked to depression and anxiety.
Now a detailed health study is being planned to see what impact the Carmarthenshire Homes Standard programme is having on tenants’ health.
Carmarthenshire County Council is behind the study, which is the first of its kind in Wales, with the help of Cardiff and Swansea Universities.
Under the Homes Standard programme, huge refurbishment schemes are underway to improve the council’s 9,200 homes.
Works including new windows and doors, painting and rendering, garden improvements and upgrades to kitchens and bathrooms are being carried out, along with cavity wall and loft insulation programmes.
A pilot study has been carried out to gauge the impact of the programme on tenants’ mental, cardiovascular and respiratory health, and the use of local health services.
Tenants living in unimproved and fully improved properties have been interviewed and the findings showed clear health improvements where works had been carried out.
Now a detailed health study is being planned, which will track tenants until the programme is competed in 2014.
Data will be collected in each heating season on the topics of physical and mental health, housing quality and tenant satisfaction, thermal comfort and fuel poverty.
The Council’s Home Improvement Manager Jonathan Willis said: “The health impact study will track tenants during the CHS programme and clarify possible effects of housing improvements on their health and wellbeing.
“There is substantial evidence to show that living in poor housing conditions is detrimental to people’s physical and mental wellbeing.
“The impact study will provide evidence that housing works can help to make improvements in mental, cardiovascular and respiratory health, and reduce the use of health services in the area and help target resources in the future”
The study comes at the same time as a major drive is underway to stamp out fuel poverty in Carmarthenshire.
Housing officers are working to help residents who are hardest hit by rising energy prices.
Energy efficiency measures have been introduced in council homes, a Carmarthenshire Home Energy Service has been launched and a dedicated energy efficiency advisor has been appointed to help residents.
Housing Executive Board Member cllr Hugh Evans said: “The link between poor housing and health is well documented.
“Many people develop or experience poor health because they are unable to heat their homes adequately.
“We hope that the works that are being carried out as part of the Homes Standard programme will have a direct impact on the health of people living in Carmarthenshire.”