A new report published today by Breaking Barriers Innovations (BBI) shows how leaders from the NHS and local authorities can work collaboratively to improve health outcomes in the home and make environments safer.
The report’s publication comes at a time when prevention is at the top of the agenda for the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, and demonstrates why, if the ambitions for this are to be achieved, a radical rethink of the approach to housing and health is required.
BBI Health and Social Care Programme 2018: HOMES (Healthy Outcomes Making Environments Safer) demonstrates how issues like housing, traditionally thought of outside of the realm of healthcare, are key to the long-term sustainability of health and social care. The current national housing crisis has put pressure on Local Authorities to increase the supply of affordable social housing, but more also needs to be done to improve surrounding environments and the upkeep of existing homes. This report draws the link between the relationship between health and housing and how the NHS and local authorities can work together to ensure both are addressed through integrated strategy, engagement with residents, workforce development and service transformation.
BBI, chaired by Professor Lord Patel of Bradford OBE, is an independent research programme that works alongside public sector leaders as they seek to improve services using locally driven, joined-up approaches. BBI’s Health and Social Care Programme has spent the last six months working with West Lancashire CCG and its partners in the Well Skelmersdale programme about how to improve the housing conditions in parts of Skelmersdale which is a former 1960s new town with a number of health problems known to be influenced by poor housing including respiratory diseases and mental health problems.
The housing and health Playbook
Nationally, there is a need for a systematic process that will support the full range of stakeholders to work collaboratively on improving health and housing. The BBI Playbook provides a practical and innovative way of helping local system leaders, partners and residents to create an action plan to address this. Additionally, The Playbook calls for attention to be paid to cross-sector workforce development in order to share knowledge and best practice to ensure people can stay healthy in their homes. According to a King’s Fund report, for every £1 invested in improving homes, there is a saving of £70 to be made by the NHS, which again demonstrates the huge returns on investment that public services stand to make by recognising that housing and health are inextricable issues.
In his speech to the International Association of National Public Health Institute on 5th November 2018, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock MP outlined the importance of making progress on prevention and drew attention to the need for high quality housing. He said: “A true focus on prevention means tackling the environmental factors that affect a person’s health.
“The government is spending £20.5 billion more of taxpayers’ hard-earned cash over the next five years – the single, largest cash injection to the NHS ever – we must see the proportion of funding on primary and community care in the NHS rise. And that is exactly what will happen in the long-term plan.
Some of this money must go towards housing and health as part of the agenda for prevention.”
The housing priority
Co-author of the report, Professor Lord Patel of Bradford OBE, said: “Housing must be at the forefront of the priorities being set out in the NHS’s new 10-year plan. We must act now to tackle some of the long-term health issues created by poor housing that residents face every day. Housing and health are core components for prevention and taking action to address this will save significant amounts of money and lead to improved health outcomes.”
Giles Bassett, Director of Strategy at Sodexo UK and Ireland, said: “Cross-sector collaboration is clearly required to design solutions to the challenges faced by the Public Sector. Sodexo is collaborating with Breaking Barriers Innovations and partners to explore the interrelationships between estates, the built environment and specialist support services to develop innovative solutions to enhance patient flow and improve the health environment.”
Mike Maguire, Chief Executive Officer at NHS West Lancashire CCG, said: “We would like to thank Breaking Barriers Innovations and their sponsors for their excellent support over the last six months. We are now looking forward to using the new playbook with our partners, to make a practical difference to the lives of people in Skelmersdale.”
Dylan Champion, Head of Health and Social care at Agilisys, said: “We are delighted to be an industry partner contributing to the UK’s first cross-sector playbook, which supports a place-based change approach, working with BBI and West Lancashire CCG. It offers practical advice and guidance for local leaders looking to co-design services and collaborate with community partners to deliver an integrated health and housing agenda for the communities they serve.
“With two decades of experience working with public sector organisations to transform services, we know times are challenging. However, by bringing together expertise from across the public, private and sectors to design services for the good of an area, we can all make a real difference to the quality of life and local environment, as well as the opportunity and welfare of residents.”
The report and its executive summary are available here.