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What action is needed to make homes in Wales better for our health and well-being?

Published: 19 July 2023

Public Health Wales researchers are publishing a series of briefings to examine what needs to be done to create healthier housing in Wales.

They will use insight into what “good” housing looks like, along with evidence from people’s lived experiences, to identify actions to achieve a shared vision for a future of healthy housing. 

There is a wealth of evidence that housing and health are strongly linked: having a stable, warm, good quality place to live is a key building block for a healthy life. Our research shows society must get the basics right, but it must also go beyond and recognise the full breadth of ways in which homes can directly and indirectly affect our health and well-being to achieve the vision of healthier homes.  

Researchers talked to those with lived experience of different housing situations and found that factors such as quality, affordability and security of housing as well as the local community and infrastructure all impacted on their mental and physical health. These themes were not experienced in isolation, each theme interacted with and compounded the others. For example, the affordability of energy bills meant participants changed their behaviours around heating their homes. Living in cold homes harmed participants’ physical health, and impacted the quality of their homes, due to increased damp. The worsening quality of homes then further impacted their physical health conditions and mental health issues, creating a vicious cycle. 

Senior Policy Officer at Public Health Wales, Manon Roberts said:

“Key trends that will shape the future of healthy housing include an increase in home working, increases in the cost of living, an ageing population, widening inequalities and climate change. Overall, participants in our study felt that having more money would improve their housing issues. Having a sense of control and choice over their homes was also a critical positive driver of health and well-being”. 

The briefing series aims to facilitate better homes by highlighting specific actions that different stakeholders can take. The introductory briefing published this summer will be followed by more briefings with specific themes, starting in later in the year with Affordable Homes for Health and Well-being. The actions outlined in the briefings will be relevant for a wide variety of stakeholders in the housing sector.