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The Chartered Institute of Housing is the independent voice for housing and the home of professional standards

Getting housing right for health and wellbeing

26/07/2011


Sarah Davis, Policy and Practice Officer, discusses the policy and operational context for housing health and social care.

These are interesting times in terms of the policy and operational context for housing, health and social care; all areas are under pressure financially, and the health and housing sectors face some significant changes to their working landscape and practices. In spite of this, or perhaps because of it, there might be a window of opportunity to make some real changes in connecting the services more effectively for older people and those with long term needs.

The long awaited Dilnot report, Fairer Care Funding, has generally been well received – a clever and thoughtful set of proposals that look at how the risks of needing high care interventions can be managed between the individual and the state. But although it made statements about the need for more integration across wider care and support systems, and the potential for extra care housing or telecare advances to support better outcomes, it perhaps missed a trick in trying to drive that forward. For example, the Centre for Social Justice’s final report, Age of Opportunity: Transforming the lives of older people in poverty, published in advance of Dilnot’s, proposed some interesting ways in which this integration might be made, including the investment in adaptations counting towards a lifetime care contribution.

However, a welcome addition to the debate is the recent report Living Well at Home, the result of the Inquiry of the All Part Parliamentary Group on Housing and Care for Older People. It focused squarely on the role of housing, both as a cause of higher care needs but also as a part of the solution – by providing safe, warm, well adapted housing options for people in accessible neighbourhoods.

CIH welcomes the recommendations made in the report, many of which were also put forward in our own most recent publication about how to integrate services across the three sectors, Localism: delivering integration across housing, health and care. In particular we echo the calls for:

Housing as well as health and wellbeing to be issue for attention of the health and wellbeing boards – CIH called for the strategic leads for housing to be involved in the boards

Housing evidence and solutions to be included in JSNA

Health and LAs to look at strategic commissioning of community/ housing based solutions for health problems (and high cost health interventions)

A recent roundtable discussion on health and wellbeing, with leading national and local experts across health and housing, hosted by Domini Gunn, CIH’s Director of Public Health and Vulnerable Communities, crystalised the challenges for the sectors to make better links. In particular there is currently a window of opportunity for housing to attract health interest and investment if it can be ambitious and ‘think big’ in what it offers to health – currently needing to find unprecedented savings (£20bn by 2014/15) driven through the QIPP (Quality, Innovation, productivity and Prevention) programme.

The challenges are big and there is a risk that all the sectors will draw up their respective drawbridges. However, the challenges are so big that we need to grasp the window of opportunity we have now to make a difference for individuals and communities in the future.

The full report of the Health and Wellbeing roundtable will be available very soon via CIH's practice hub


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