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. Housing quality improves health.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.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.

Universal Design drives Housing Quality

Big houses are still being built without accessibility in mind. Universal design for housing quality.Although there have been fundamental changes in the building code and regulations in Norway, it seems that none of this has guaranteed improvements in quality on the usability of homes. Perhaps there are some lessons for Australia when it comes to implementing the new building code for housing in 2022. 

In a research study, the authors conclude that architects, more than any other group in the construction industry are trained to break conventional frameworks. How the regulations are applied by users is the key to success – this is where the education of architects and building designers comes in.

Architects are often willing to innovate, the authors claim. “One chief intention of the building code is to promote universal design in the built environment. It seems that the appending regulations may not follow up the intention as it could be expected. Amendments are probably needed and should be based on a broader view on the design process.”

The title of the article is, Universal Design as a Booster for Housing Quality and Architectural Practice. It seems we could learn from this experience – regulations are one thing, but applying them appropriately and for maximum effect is another. The abstract gives a good overview of the project.