Health and housing must work together to improve health and wellbeing in Northern Ireland, experts say ahead of conference
Housing and health professionals must work together to improve the health and wellbeing of people in Northern Ireland and reduce the strain on health service spending, leading figures have said ahead of a national conference.
Speaking ahead of the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) health and housing conference taking place in Belfast today, CIH’s director for Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, Nicola McCrudden, said it was imperative housing and health worked together closely to meet the challenge of housing an ageing population and to reduce homelessness levels.
Ahead of the event at the Ramada Plaza in Belfast she said: “Stronger links between housing and health has the potential to change people’s lives and help to relieve pressure on our strained health services.
“Housing and health professionals play a vital role in delivering services and working together effectively provides the best outcomes for people in greatest need. Access to good quality, warm and accessible housing and support is closely linked to people’s health and wellbeing and we must work together to deliver this.
“Figures show the main reason people become homeless in Northern Ireland is because their accommodation is unsuitable – housing and health professionals can play an important role in reducing this by providing tailored support to people in their homes.
“And as our population ages we need housing that meets their needs, promotes their independence and helps them remain in their home for as long as possible. This will require a different way of working – both leadership and commitment from the respective ministerial departments is required.
”The conference brings together members of the health, social care and housing professions to make sure we are working together on everything from mental health and homelessness prevention to quality of residential environments and innovative ways to tackle fuel poverty.”
CIH Health and Housing Conference 2016 is sponsored by Choice Housing with the Presidential Centenary Dinner sponsored by Fold Housing. Speakers include Minister for Communities Paul Givan MLA and professor of mental health services at Ulster University Siobhan O’Neill.
Minister for Communities Paul Givan MLA said: “A safe, settled home is the cornerstone on which individuals and families build a better quality of life, get access to the services they need and gain greater independence. By contrast, homelessness and poor housing multiply inequalities and have a long term impact on physical and mental health.
“For this reason housing remains one of my top priorities. I have protected funding for the Supporting People scheme for this year at almost £72.8 million – supporting over 18,500 vulnerable people to live independently. I also plan to make practical improvements to how we deliver housing. In 2017/18 new design and space standards for wheelchair accommodation will be introduced as part of the Social Housing Development Programme, and a review of the Housing Fitness Standard is ongoing.
“Our approach to housing issues in government is fundamental to many of the aspirations we have for our people and society. This conference is an important opportunity to consider how we can work together with stakeholders to deliver housing which supports the health and wellbeing of our population.”
Health Minister Michelle O’Neill, who is represented at the event by Hazel Winning, Department of Health, said; “Professionals working together in health and housing have a significant contribution to make and they play a vital role in helping to improve the health and wellbeing of our people, particularly those in greatest need, living in the north of Ireland.
“This collaborative, joined-up approach is becoming increasingly necessary when we take into account the health and housing needs of our ageing society.
“I believe in the importance of ensuring person centred services and involving those who need the service in its planning and evaluation. Well-designed accessible, warm, dry housing prevents disease and accidents, helps to tackle fuel poverty and inequality. It also promotes mental health, well-being and independent living.
“We need to ensure effective cross sector planning and co-ordination of services, in every sector, to ensure the skills of professionals are focused on improving the lives of disabled people. By working together we can further simplify service delivery and develop innovative and cost effective Housing and Care solutions to meet the challenges of our ageing society.”
For more information please contact Justin Cartwright, CIH policy and public affairs manager on 028 9077 8222, 07824 304 351 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. The Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) is the independent voice for housing and the home of professional standards. Our goal is simple – to provide housing professionals with the advice, support and knowledge they need to be brilliant. CIH is a registered charity and not-for-profit organisation. This means that the money we make is put back into the organisation and funds the activities we carry out to support the housing sector. We have a diverse membership of people who work in both the public and private sectors, in 20 countries on five continents across the world. Further information is available at: www.cih.org