New Paths to Well-being and Health in Social Housing – University of Copenhagen

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14 September 2017

New Paths to Well-being and Health in Social Housing

Well-being

As part of a new project researchers from the University of Copenhagen will be monitoring the well-being and health of residents in the residential area Taastrupgaard before, during and after great changes to the housing stock and institutions. The aim is to develop and document measures for improving the well-being and health of the residents in close cooperation with the residents themselves, associations and Høje Taastrup Municipality. The project is funded by Nordea-fonden.


 
The past 30-40 years’ health and medical research shows that social relations are vital to our physical and mental health. Here the area we live in also plays a main and vital role. This is the basis of a new large research and intervention project, ‘Well-being, Health and Social Communities in the Future Taastrupgaard’. The project target group comprises middle-aged and senior residents. 

Taastrupgaard is a social and diverse housing area located in Høje Taastrup Municipality. It has around 2,600 residents. Over the next few years the area will see great physical changes, which will contribute to making the area an even better place to live. The densely populated area will be opened up when 188 homes are demolished and replaced by a children’s cultural centre with a school and day care facilities. In addition, 40 homes will be converted into senior-friendly homes.

The Researchers Move in

More and more municipalities take steps to develop and improve social housing areas. But they lack scientific knowledge on how such changes affect the well-being, health and social relations of the people who are affected by the changes.

Researchers from the Department of Public Health and the Center for Healthy Aging will be monitoring the well-being, social relations and health of middle-aged and senior residents and studying the development hereof in a period of great changes to the local area.

‘We have been given a unique opportunity to study how middle-aged and senior residents in Taastrupgaard are affected by great changes to the residential area. Together with both residents, the municipality and associations we will use this new knowledge to launch various activities that can promote social communities and improve the health of the residents’, says Associate Professor Rikke Lund from the Department of Public Health and the Center for Healthy Aging at the University of Copenhagen.

Rich Associational Life at Taastrupgaard

It is not the first time the researchers have been in contact with Taastrupgaard. They have just completed a one-year project in the area.

‘We have shown how rich the associational life of the area is and how important existing local networks are for establishing contact with residents that may feel vulnerable due to loneliness or disease for example. We have cooperated with social housing staff, Neighbourhood Mothers, other volunteer associations and mosques in the area, just as fiery souls among the local residents have been a huge resource to us. We very much look forward to building on this work’, says Associate Professor Maria Kristiansen from the Department of Public Health and the Center for Healthy Aging at the University of Copenhagen.

Neighbourliness and Knowledge Sharing
A possible measure concerns strengthening the contact between middle-aged and senior residents in the area. This may include middle-aged residents training to become health guides who visit senior residents and invite them to participate in communal eating or go for walks.

The project has received funding of DKK 8.8 million from Nordea-fonden.

’We are happy that the residents of Taastrupgaard will open their doors to the researchers when they move in. The cooperation will give us new knowledge and experience about how social relations in the form of neighbourliness and contact between generations affect the health and quality of life of residents in social housing’, says Henrik Lehmann Andersen, Director of Nordea-fonden, which promotes good living.

Knowledge from the project will be shared regularly with the aim of contributing to change processes in similar residential areas throughout the country.