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

How can housing organisations ease the pressure on our health services?


The housing sector has a vital part to play to help people leave hospital more quickly and prevent them being admitted in the first place, says CIH's head of practice Debbie Larner.

The financial pressures facing the NHS are still making headlines.

From the proposal to stop prescribing some common drugs, to ongoing issues of hospital overcrowding and missed A&E targets, there is a growing concern that ‘business as usual’ is no longer possible, and questions about how we can do things differently to support this crucial service.

Delays in discharging patients is one of the factors that drives up hospital bed occupancy rates, preventing beds being freed up for those who need to be admitted, and adding to pressures on A&E departments.

The number of delayed transfers of care was relatively stable until the start of 2014/15 but since then the total number of delayed days has increased by 33 per cent, reaching their highest point since 2008. There was a particularly steep increase in 2015 with delayed days rising 12 per cent (equivalent to 16,030 extra delayed days) between April and December (see Kings Fund).

While many other factors come into play, the housing sector has a vital part to play both in terms of hospital discharge and the prevention of admission to hospital.

Our latest sector showcase looks at the role of housing in effective hospital discharge and highlights some of the key building blocks needed to develop an integrated approach to hospital discharge.

1. Recognise and understand different working cultures – this may sound obvious, but as we know it’s often a case of housing professionals are from Venus and health professionals are from Mars!

2. Relationships matter – it’s often not what you know but who – good rapport and trust can make all the difference in getting new initiatives off the ground and making them sustainable.

3. Don’t invent barriers – information sharing between hospital staff and housing is a must to enable speedy and effective discharge – yes, there are protocols to be followed but these can be simple and effective.

4. Do “with” rather than “for” – this is where we introduce the concept of “re-ablement” which is described by google as “a bit of help to get someone back on their feet”. As part of a multi-disciplinary team, housing staff can play a key part in supporting people to regain the independence and skills needed to care for themselves

There are lots of great projects and initiatives by hospitals and housing providers which are achieving great outcomes from: reducing readmissions; homelessness prevention; reduction in length of hospital stays, and ultimately a massive cost saving to the NHS.

- Read our sector showcase

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  • ?We absolutely need to work closer with health and vice versa. With an ageing population it is time to recognise again the value of sheltered housing, which not too many years ago was largely dismissed as yesterdays solution.

    Lucas, Nigel George

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