The mental health and wellbeing of elders in black and minority ethnic communities: the impact of poor housing on mental wellbeing

What is the video about?

This film addresses the significant link between housing and mental wellbeing, which service providers often fail to recognise. Unresolved repair or maintenance issues can have a devastating impact on the quality of life of all older people and access to housing services is crucial. For BME older people however, who may be living on a low income and isolated, access to housing services can be more difficult to negotiate because of language and cultural barriers.

Organisations such as Bristol Care and Repair have taken a holistic approach to housing solutions, which help to promote mental wellbeing. For them, it is not just a question of simply carrying out repairs and maintenance. Workers are trained to take into account the cultural needs of older residents so that the service they provide their customers is more sensitive. The film follows Bristol Care and Repair employees on a cultural awareness tour of the local Sikh temple where workers learn first-hand what some of the important cultural issues are for people from this community.

The film describes the situation of Mrs Robotham whose physical and mental health has been seriously affected by the condition of her home. Bristol Care and Repair have been successful in accessing charitable funds to carry out necessary works, which has had a huge impact on Mrs Robotham’s physical health and mental wellbeing.

Messages for practice

  1. Commissioners and housing and social care professionals should understand the important link between housing and mental wellbeing.
  2. Older people from BME backgrounds may not be able to access housing services because of cultural and language barriers. Therefore, services providing repairs, adaptation or practical help around the home that are accessible and appropriate should be a high priority for service providers.
  3. Poverty can mean that some BME older home owners and private tenants are unable to repair or maintain their property. Housing and social care staff should explore different sources of charitable funding and grants to address this issue.
  4. Disrepair and maintenance can affect not only physical health but can lead to anxiety and stress. It can also cause social isolation as older people may feel embarrassed to invite friends and family.
  5. Professionals should ensure that individuals are able to live comfortably and safely at home. This includes facilitating access to any necessary aids and adaptations.
  6. Individual people will have different needs, which is why a whole range of solutions and approaches are needed to meet those needs.

Who will find this useful?

housing and social care professionals and commissioners of services; community health professionals; local councillors; community mental health professionals; private and public landlords.