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Our Housing and Health Strategy

Updated: 22 Aug 2014
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Quality of housing impacts on health
Clooney, Derry
It is estimated that over 70% of health impacts occur as consequences of factors outside the formal health service. There is a close relationship between poor housing and poor health. Housing and housing related activities, particularly the improvement in housing conditions, are accepted as some of the most critical of these impacts.
We all need not just a roof over our head but a home which is warm and dry, safe and free from infestation. This is one of the basics for health set out by the World Health Organisation. The impact on health of homelessness, poor quality housing and the wider urban environment show this link most clearly.
Poor housing can also have a negative impact on a wider range of physical and mental health problems
Our first Housing and Health strategy was published in 2001.
It looked at the contribution of housing to health in Northern Ireland and set out areas where housing interfaced with health.  It recognised the need for partnership working not only with the health sector but also other statutory, voluntary and community sectors to tackle a wide range of housing related issues.  
A report  was published in 2006 which charted the Housing Executive’s progress since 2001 and highlighted the importance of close co-operation, strategic planning and commissioning of services across the sectors of housing, health and social care.  The Supporting People programme made the most significant impact in this area.
The Housing and Health Strategy was reviewed in 2007.  A number of themes emerged.

Health and social care

  • An increased emphasis on prevention and health promotion encouraging people to take greater responsibility for their health and well-being
  • Transfer of focus of patient from hospital to community setting.

Demographics

  • The demographic profile is changing with important implications not only in terms of increased households /reducing household size but an increasing older population
  • A growing number of older people and other vulnerable client groups requiring varying levels of support to enable them to live as independently as possible

Housing implications

  • Increased levels of affordable and decent housing
  • More Supported Housing to deal with an increasing and increasingly diverse older population with a wide range of support needs
  • Improved energy efficiency including renewable technologies helping to improve air quality and alleviate fuel poverty.
Housing is now recognised as not only affecting physical health but also social wellbeing.  That is why housing has such a significant role to play in contributing to sustainable communities in building not only physical but social capital.  Decent and affordable housing is widely accepted as an important catalyst and a first step towards a sense of individual and community well being with beneficial consequences in terms of stable home environment, better health and better educational and employment opportunities.