This report was commissioned by the BRE Trust as part of its contribution to a wider scoping study to identify the common hazards in Irish housing affecting older people and their health. The study estimates that the total health impact to society of leaving these common hazards un-rectified is costing Ireland some £1.25 billion Euros a year to the health and care services, plus the distress and lost opportunities to the victims and their families. The findings of this study might be used towards the development of enhanced information and simple guidance for older people in relation to the safety of their homes and developing resources that can be used to support Irish local authorities and landlords in their preparation and maintenance of housing for older people.
The full report can be downloaded.
Poor housing has been defined, for the purposes of this research, as a home that doesn’t meet the current minimum Welsh housing standards because it has one (or more) Category 1 Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) hazard.
The HHSRS identifies defects in homes and evaluates their potential effect on the health and safety of occupants, visitors, neighbours and passers-by. A Category 1 hazard is a serious and immediate risk to health and safety (less serious hazards are Category 2).
There are 29 HHSRS hazards in four groups:
physiological – e.g. damp, cold, asbestos, carbon monoxide,
psychological – e.g. space, lighting, noise,
infection – e.g. pests, refuse, sanitation, drainage,
accident – e.g. falls, electrical hazards, fire.
Wales has the highest proportion of poor housing among the UK nations, largely due to its older housing stock, and the UK has the oldest housing stock of all EU member states. The older a dwelling is, the more likely it is to represent a health and safety risk. A home built before the First World War, for example, is seven times as likely to have a significant health and safety hazard than one built after 1980.
A model developed for this study, using statistical extrapolations from the BRE ‘cost of poor housing’ research, estimated that the UK had the highest health costs related to poor housing in the EU – lagging far behind countries such as Denmark which has a very high-quality housing stock.
The type and composition of the housing stock of Ireland is similar to that of Northern Ireland. As such, it is likely that housing conditions in Ireland will follow a similar pattern to those in Northern Ireland, which has a national survey to monitor these – the Northern Ireland House Condition Survey (NIHCS).
A model developed by BRE to extrapolate survey results from the 2016 NIHCS to Ireland suggests that around 160,000 (8%) of Irish homes are likely to present a serious health and safety risk to their occupants (and visitors). This compares with 9% in Northern Ireland, 11% in England, and 18% in Wales.
Ireland’s apparent better conditions are largely driven by the age of its housing stock, which is one of the newest in Europe.
Clink below to read more about Ireland’s housing stock and its implications for health.