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Welsh homes should be health havens, not health hazards

"We spend a large proportion of our time at home: up to 70%, and this figure rises for younger children and older people.

"I want homes in Wales to be environments which improve our health, not harm it.  Many factors can affect our health at home: poverty, second-hand smoke, fuel poverty and energy efficiency, damp, food hygiene, the threat of crime, such as domestic abuse or a burglary, or even the fear of crime.

"The Welsh Government is taking action on all of these issues; I would like to see them brought together in a single healthy homes strategy, to coordinate action for the most vulnerable people in Wales.  I believe tackling smoking in the home needs to be a priority as part of this."

"The Welsh Government is currently developing a Housing Bill and I would like the concept of the home as a place to improve health to be at the heart of this work." 

The Chief Medical Officer will visit Carmarthen, to meet people benefitting from a major social housing regeneration programme being undertaken by Carmarthenshire Council.  The NHS is working with the Health Information Research Unit at Swansea University and Cardiff University to measure the immediate and longer term health benefits.

The programme will bring housing up to a national quality standard, improving security, including locks and lighting, kitchens and bathrooms, installing downstairs toilets, providing double glazing, thermal insulation and ensuring garden paths are in good condition. 

Using anonymised data, including hospital admissions for certain conditions, GP consultations and prescriptions, the study will compare the health of residents before and after the improvements.  The data will be compared with social housing residents elsewhere in Wales, to analyse how each set of improvements, or a combination of improvements, affects residents’ health.

"I’m keen to see how the project is making a difference, and what lessons we can learn to tackle health inequalities across Wales.  This is an issue that requires action across government, local authorities and the third sector, not just the NHS.

"By 2035, the population aged 85 or over will more than double from 2010 figures.  This will have an impact on the treatment people require from the NHS, and also the need to support people to live independently in the community.

"Initiatives like the Gwent Frailty Programme and the Cardiff East Locality Team are pioneering integrated partnership working between the NHS, third sector bodies and Local Authorities.  They work on preventative care, assessing falls risks, reducing length of hospital stay, and focus on supporting people to remain in their own homes.  This kind of partnership working will need to increase to support people as they grow older in Wales."

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