A new report reviews projects and pilot initiatives across the UK which bring together health and housing, with a particular focus on older people.
Health and housing: building the evidence base was commissioned by Kent Surrey Sussex Academic Health Science Network (KSS AHSN) and undertaken by the Housing LIN. It suggests that closer working between the NHS and the housing sector can help reduce hospital admissions and emergency department visits, speed up the discharge of older patients and maintain the independence of older people.
The report concludes that housing and housing-related services can make a significant contribution to emerging models of integrated health and social care services, activities and facilities.
The review illustrates that there is a wide range of initiatives and approaches available, many of which overlap. This means that discharge services may combine advice and information with aids and adaptations, handyperson services, falls prevention and warm home services. There does not appear to be one single model, as the approach will need to be context specific and there may be scope to build on existing programmes in the local area.
However, in many of the examples, there is a focus on joining-up services around the individual patient or resident to simplify potentially complex service pathways, and to developing partnerships between health, public health, social care and voluntary sector organisations.
Tracey Faraday-Drake, Director of the Living Well for Longer Programme at KSS AHSN, and who commissioned the report stated, 'This report confirms how important it is for older people to be better supported in their own homes so that they can live more independent lives outside of hospital. It reinforces KSS AHSN’s Living Well for Longer focus: to avoid unnecessary hospital admissions for older people and, to that end, to consider new and innovative models of care to help achieve this goal. We are committed to working with members and partners across Kent, Surrey and Sussex with the shared ambition to keep older people out of hospital and better enabling them to live healthier, more active lives in their communities for longer.'
Jeremy Porteus, Managing Director of the Housing LIN and co-author of the report, said, 'With the NHS and social care services under unprecedented strain, commissioners and providers cannot afford to ignore the potential savings and better integrated care they could achieve by working with local housing services.
'They should be involving housing in discussions and planning around integration, transformation and budget-setting. Keeping people out of hospital – and discharging them promptly when they are medically fit – are key to the NHS surviving in its current form. Our report highlights the many innovative ways in which housing with care and housing-related services can contribute to achieving that vital goal.'