Tree change, sea change: think carefully first

A weeping willow tree shades the free range chickens. The house is hidden behind bushes and there are hills in the background.Fresh country air and room to breathe – it sounds perfect for retirement. Leaving the busy city behind for a care-free country life seems wonderful, but is it? City dwellers often find out the hard way that country living is often missing a few things they have taken for granted all their lives. Access to medical treatment, shops, entertainment and public transport can prove difficult as one couple found in this story. And the culture in regional and country towns is a little different to the big city too. Fitting in with country ways can take some adjusting. The story is nicely written and gives food for thought. However, this is not necessarily the experience of all retirees.

Editor’s note. I worked on the mid-north coast in community services for a few years and saw first hand how the romance of country living soon lost it shine. The article explains what I saw many times. 

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Housing quality improves health

A man in a bright yellow T shirt is painting and archway in a wall inside a home. The wall is grey and there are tools on the floor.Ever wondered what the long term effects of a home modification are? A longitudinal study from the UK shows that household improvements in social housing can reduce risk of hospital stays, particularly in older people. While the study picks up major improvements in chest and heart health, it also found that falls and burns were reduced too. Over the ten years of the study, they found that homes that were modified and upgraded correlated with reduced hospital events. That means savings in the health budget or beds freed up for other patients. Obviously it is better for occupants too. It is not clear how poor the condition of the housing was prior to the upgrade or modification relative to Australian housing. This is an academic paper outlining the methods and comparing to other studies, but the discussion and conclusions give you the take-home message – health and  the quality and design of housing quality are related and should be integrated in policy-making and planning. 

One key finding was: “Using up to a decade of household improvements linked to individual level data, we found that social housing quality improvements were associated with substantial reductions in emergency hospital admissions for cardiovascular conditions, respiratory conditions, and fall and burn injuries.”

The title of the study is, “Emergency hospital admissions associated with a non-randomised housing intervention meeting national housing quality standards: a longitudinal data linkage study”. Sarah Rodgers et al. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

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