NHF: mixing good housing with health care improves lives
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Communities, Health
Integrating good quality housing with health and social care improves the lives of vulnerable and older people, a new report claims.
The National Housing Federation's (NHF) report - Providing an Alternative Pathway - additionally claims that such an integration can save £thousands in health and care costs.
The study looks at how people's lives have been affected when housing associations and their support workers have become involved in aftercare decisions with councils and hospitals.
It reveals that people in specially adapted homes avoided stays in expensive residential homes and that regular visits from support workers slowed the deterioration of a person’s health and reduced the need for costly medical intervention.
The NHF's head of communities, Kevin Williamson, said: "Integrating good and adapted housing with health services can dramatically improve the health and wellbeing of older and vulnerable people and prevent them from needing more care. It can bring independence to those with physical disabilities, dignity to older people and provide a safe and secure environment for people with mental health illnesses.
"We want the Government to set out clear proposals on the funding of social care reform, and to include explicit guidance on integrating housing and healthcare in the draft Care and Support Bill.
"But for housing associations to develop the right type of homes for older and vulnerable people, they also need places where they can build. The Department of Health can help by encouraging the NHS to consider specialised housing when distributing their surplus land.
Cllr David Rogers, chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: "We recognise that we must integrate the housing and social care agendas at national and local level to ensure that we can deliver housing that meets the diverse needs of vulnerable and ageing members of the population.
"In a period of economic austerity, we believe addressing the housing needs of vulnerable people can substantially reduce demand for, and the cost of, health and social care and enhance quality of life.
"What is needed is a change of ethos, a shift of emphasis from providing residential care towards prolonging independence through better public health, leisure and transport schemes, more adaptable housing, new technologies and neighbourhood projects."