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Baker Homes Blog

NHS Valentines treat - save millions by adapting homes to climate change

Posted by Baker Homes on 13-Feb-2015 15:23:05

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching on Saturday there is a lot of talk about love and happiness. It may just be that housing can provide the NHS with quite a nice Valentines present by reducing health visits by the thousands and saving the NHS millions. But how?

We all know there is a link between quality of housing and health of residents. We were commissioned by the London Climate Change Partnership (LCCP); to investigate the actual costs and benefits of considering adapting our homes to a changing climate. The work analysed the impact of adaptation works to 200 homes in the Colne and Mersea tower blocks in Barking and Dagenham in London, to provide evidence to help landlords make the case for adaptation.

The work was very revealing. Improvements made to the homes can have real benefits for the NHS.

During the heat wave of 2003, there were 20,000 excess summer deaths across Europe. There were also hundreds of thousands of additional hospitalisations.  By the late 2030s, we can expect to have every second summer as hot as this. So what can we do in our homes? Adding adequate ventilation measures, shading and other steps can ensure a home is less likely to overheat. So what are the benefits for the NHS, creating their nice valentines present...?

The “reducing heat cramps and stroke” section of the table below shows a potential impact. Research shows that heat waves add an additional cost to the NHS of £51million to £404million. If we can reduce the likelihood of heat cramps and strokes this has the potential to save the NHS millions.

Similarly, flooding has large impacts on people. This is important. Over five million homes in the UK are at risk of flooding.  Many of those are not where you would normally consider at risk. Surface water flooding is a large part of that risk. The risk is increasing. Twenty percent more homes are likely to be flooded by 2034. When people have their homes damaged by floods it can also impact their mental health. A DEFRA study on the severe floods in 2007 estimated a cost of £2,513 that was paid out per household in stress related mental health treatment.

The table below, taken from the Business Case for incorporating adaptation measures in retrofits (one of the guides Baker Homes wrote for the LCCP) shows that flooding has significant economic and social impacts.

The Business Case for incorporating adaptation into retrofits study demonstrates the wider social and economic values of climate adaptation. It analyses a real instance of adaptation work being undertaken and the impact of the improvements.

Recommendations within the report are made to establish Local Authority Health and Wellbeing Boards where integrated approaches to health can be developed in local areas. While there is no specific NHS funding stream available for housing, Health and Wellbeing Boards are able to collaborate with relevant partners – including housing providers. The financial impacts of housing adaptation noted above may support additional cooperation on this front and develop new routes to funding.

Baker Homes is organising a National Conference on Health and Housing in Leeds on Wednesday 25th February 2015, where you can find out more about:

  • how others in the social housing sector are improving the health of their homes and residents
  • simple tools to improve air quality in retrofitted homes
  • new standards for new build homes

Be part of the dialogue across the housing and health sector. Click here to register 

You can download our reports and guidance on adapting to a future climate by clicking here 

  SHIFT conference, health and housing, housing associations, over heating, condensation

Topics: Climate Change Adaptation, Health, Overheating, Flooding

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