Housing Ang Health

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Examine the associations between housing and health, and discuss the impact of policy interventions.

Word Count: 3185

Accommodation is a basic human necessity and the standard and accessibility has an effect on everyone. Harriot et al (1998) state that, “housing is not a single entity; it is a heterogeneous item, available in many different locations, in different sizes and styles, of variable quality, and in number of distinct tenures” (Harriot et al, 1998: 21). The relationship between housing conditions and both physical and psychological health, has long been established. Although in the nineteen century the link between poor accommodation and health was very difficult to evaluate, and is still now, Chadwick in 1842 argued that, there is correlation between poor living standards of the underprivileged and their poor health. This lead the state to invest in public health processes such as access to clean water, sanitation and improved housing conditions.

This essay will argue that a home has a considerable effect on health. A comfortably hot, dry and safe accommodation is linked with improved health, whilst poor accommodation is linked to poor health.

However, whilst there are arrays of definite housing factors which influence health outcomes, it has to recognise that the relationship between housing quality and health is intricate due to the fact that numerous dimensions of housing and health operate at a number of interconnected levels. Other forces at play are the wider policy environment, employment opportunities, educational accomplishment, neighbourhood environment, social relationships, and lifestyles. In relation to the broader policy issues, housing has re-emerged as a component in policy debates. One such policy is the Department of Health’s White Paper, Choosing health: Making healthy choices easier (2004). Recent studies on housing and health such as the Black Report (1980) and the Acheson Report (1998) state that, substandard housing is linked with poor health. In 1996 the House Condition Survey found that 1,522,000 housing in UK did not meet the required standards. Most houses in deprived areas were found to be of very low standards. Vulnerable people such as elderly, the young and those who suffer from ill-health are more at risk as they spend much of their times in indoors which are mostly damp, mould, cold, over-crowded due to the shortage of houses. Structural faults also enhance the danger of accidents in the home. Substandard accommodation may also affect mental health. The cost of housing in relation to family earnings and the condition and quantity of what families get for their money is a focus of interests in policy debates. Most importantly, is how the government should be involved in housing market to help families who are not in a position to acquire adequate housing for them is a subject matter all over the world (Collins, 2000).

In order to demonstrate the link connecting housing and health, it is of great importance to analyse physical and psycho-social influence that can cause chronic-ill health. Damp and mould environment have direct and indirect effect on health. Damp is mainly caused by lack of thermal insulation in the building and inadequate heating system. Research has also suggested that a temperature of 21 degrees Celsius can provide adequate warmth in the home. Boardman (1991) argued that, it is unachievable in houses with excessive dampness. It has also been noted that economic causes also play an important role in this issue. Most people on low income, psychologically ill or long term sick are most affected and they live in substandard housing with excessive dampness. They also cannot afford to keep their homes warm to a standard of comfort. Collins (2000) suggests that, there is a link between cold and respiratory illness and individuals who reside in excessive cold houses are much more likely to suffer from bad chest. Cold is...
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