Let’s clear the air

Care home manager Fatma and a staff member laughing with residents in the garden of the care home, by Regent's Canal

Did you know that, in London, 9,400 premature deaths a year are attributed to poor air quality? And that air pollution costs our healthcare system as much as £3.7 billion per year? These are two of the reasons Islington Council’s air quality team has been working with nine care homes in the borough since April 2022 to give them tailored tips on improving their air quality. With the help of Government funding, the council has also supported them to implement those changes.

We caught up with Fatma Makalo, the centre manager of Bridgeside Lodge care home, to learn more about how the project is benefitting their 64 residents

Why did you get involved in the care home air quality project?

We’re located by Regent’s Canal, so we’re aware of air pollution from the canal boats, which burn wood. We have a garden that our residents like to use and we’d been thinking about improving this space.

When Islington Council approached us, we decided to get involved to ensure that the air that staff, residents, and visitors breathe is as clean as possible. Improved air quality will enhance residents’ wellbeing, providing them with an improved quality of life.

Fatma, centre manager of Bridgeside Lodge

What changes have been made as part of the project?

The council carried out an air quality audit of the centre and provided us with recommendations on how to protect residents from the impact of air pollution – for example, shutting windows when canal boats are burning fuels outside. They also helped us sign up to a service called AirText, which sends an alert when air pollution levels are high.

What’s next?

We’re currently applying for a grant to improve our garden by moving the seating area away from the canal, and by planting plants that absorb air pollution. We’re also hoping to use the grant to install cycle parking, to encourage more staff and visitors to cycle to the centre.

Would you recommend that other care homes get involved?

I’m proud that Bridgeside Lodge is involved in this project – and I would definitely recommend that other care homes take part! The relatives of our residents are enthusiastic about it and the whole Bridgeside Lodge community are looking forward to the upcoming changes. We’ve learnt a lot about air pollution, particularly how small changes can make a big difference.

To find out more, email: pollution@islington.gov.uk

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