diabetesA briefing paper from BRE, the world leading multi-disciplinary building science centre with a mission to improve the built environment through research and knowledge generation, shows simple changes to the homes of older people could save the NHS over £600million a year.

The briefing paper ‘Homes and Ageing in England’, prepared by BRE on behalf of Public Health England, builds on the earlier BRE publication ‘The cost of poor housing to the NHS’ and will be launched at the ‘Healthy Places for People’ conference this December.

Using data collected by the English Housing Survey, and the methodology from the earlier report, the findings show that there are over a million homes occupied by those over 55 where there is a significant risk to health (for example excess cold or of injury from falling on poorly designed steps, both inside and outside the home). Treating these avoidable illnesses and injuries costs the NHS over £600m a year. The paper provides costings and case studies for a range of remedial works, and calculates pay-back periods for them.

Co-author of Homes and Ageing in England, Helen Garrett says: “We hope that this paper will be of interest to professionals and academia working in the field of housing and/or health, including Health and Wellbeing Boards, housing providers and agencies supporting the care of the elderly, as well as national policy makers.”

Professor Kevin Fenton, National Director of Health and Wellbeing at Public Health England says: “We welcome this publication by BRE as a significant contribution to the understanding of the connections between housing and health. We hope that this will engender wider discussions around health and wellbeing, healthcare costs, prevention and the role which good housing plays in underpinning the health and wellbeing of older people.”

The ‘Healthy Places for People’ conference, (HP4P) brings together strategic leaders from the housing, public health and NHS sectors to discuss their priorities and explore why we should work together more closely.