Health and housing for future living
At City West, we’re passionate about raising housing standards.
Over the past three years we’ve developed plans that will see greater links between housing provision and health and wellbeing services across Salford for elderly and vulnerable customers. It’s something we take seriously and continue to deliver on – since 2008 we’ve saved £61 million for vital health services through property adaptations. Importantly, that means over 1,200 people have been able to stay in their own homes.
Just last month we were very proud to launch Amblecote Gardens, a brand new extra care facility based on the principles of “intentional communities” – ensuring that residents can maintain independent lives with access to key services and draw on the support of the wider community when needed.
However, even though we’re working hard, when it comes to meeting the needs of an ageing population it’s still not enough. The issue is one of the biggest challenges that social housing faces in the coming years and yet there is a severe lack of leadership when it comes to addressing it.
That’s why we’re calling for the Government to make radical changes. We recently sponsored a report by think tank the Institute of Public Policy and Research which showed – unsurprisingly – that the current supply of housing for older people is insufficient and out of touch with the needs of residents, preventing them from remaining in their homes and communities.
The huge disconnect between health and housing services in large parts of the country means we have thousands of people sat in hospital beds or care facilities – at great expense to the taxpayer and causing untold distress to patients and their families – when some collaborative working could allow them to be treated at home or, better still, prevent them from becoming ill in the first place.
So there is a huge amount that housing associations and the health sector could, and should, be doing.
Housing associations want to open a dialogue with health professionals, but we need to be much clearer in demonstrating the benefits that improved homes make to the health service. Improving building standards and introducing new incentives to ensure that future homes can better support independent living are just two recommendations from the report.
There will always be a need for supported housing but the image surrounding the offer needs to change, and that will only come if we secure buy-in from the public and build desirable homes in places they want to live.
We also need to speed up the adaptations process to make sure interventions happen at an earlier stage and that those in the most need are seen first. This will promote early interventions that prevent costly health problems further down the line – saving money and resources for health services locally.
There are already some excellent pilots taking place up and down the country that are having a real impact on health outcomes. The challenge now is for the Government to step up to the plate, turn these local ideas into national programmes, and give health and housing the billing it so urgently needs.
Read the IPPR report here: “For future living: Innovative approaches to joining up housing and health”
Tim Doyle, Group Chief Executive at ForViva