Nottingham ‘partnership initiative’ finds suitable housing
During the pandemic a health and housing scheme in Nottingham is, proponents say, ‘showing the value of partnership work’ in supporting residents to find good quality housing that helps them stay healthy, and reduces unnecessary time in hospital.
Nottingham’s Housing to Health (H2H) scheme, run by the NHS, Nottingham City Homes, and Nottingham City Council, ‘provides fast-track housing solutions’ for patients in hospital and the community. In the coronavirus’s ‘first wave’, the service helped rehouse 39 patients, and gave practical support to shielding and vulnerable residents and their families. A recent report, Harnessing Housing Support: Nottingham Housing to Health Service, which ‘showcases positive examples of local partnership working between health, housing, and local government and to help facilitate discussion around how similar services could be utilised countrywide’, recognises the project as a national exemplar; it recommends this ‘and other similar models’ be used for national learning.
Launched in November 2015, and now in its fifth year, the H2H project reportedly not only supports people to leave hospital safely, but also frees up acute and community care capacity, and realises savings for the NHS and its partners. It has so far re-housed 454 individuals into suitable social housing, and worked with 49 people at risk of homelessness.
Nottingham City Council says ‘COVID’ has highlighted the importance of housing to health and wellbeing, while delays in patient discharge from hospital are known as a significant national issue for the NHS. Meanwhile, the Council says, estimates suggest the NHS spends around £820 m annually treating older patients who no longer need be in hospital. This scheme, which has helped reduce the number and length of hospital admissions, has been shown to avoid 310 admissions to Nottingham’s hospitals, reducing costs to the NHS by £1.6 m. Other benefits cited include reduced demand for adult social care services, and extra income through letting properties more quickly.
In Nottingham, H2H partners work together to identify patients in hospital and the community living in poor or unsuitable accommodation that is negatively affecting their health, and to then re-house them into good-quality social housing. The project has evidenced improvements in the health and wellbeing of patients and their carers, enabling the former to live independently, and reducing their ongoing use of health and care services. As a result of the service, 98 per cent of patients now feel safe in their home, and hospital re-admissions per person have reduced from four to two per year.
Housing Health Coordinators (HHCs) take referrals from health professionals in hospital, community, or mental health Trusts. The three key client groups are older people in hospital or in the community with health at risk due to their housing, essential wheelchair users of any age occupying a high-demand hospital bed through a lack of accessible accommodation, and mental health patients of any age ready to move from a high-demand bed in a mental health ward or step-down unit into a one-bed apartment in the community.
HHCs help source suitable accommodation, such as independent living or wheelchair-adapted homes, supporting the individual and their family through the whole process.
David Pearson MBE, Independent chair of the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Integrated Health and Care System, said: “Having a safe, secure, and appropriate place to live is fundamental to being able to sustain people’s health and wellbeing. The programme continues to provide benefits to the community, and proves that quality housing is essential to maintaining people’s independence by enabling as much choice and control in their lives as possible.”
Cllr Linda Woodings, Portfolio holder for Planning, Housing and Heritage at Nottingham City Council (pictured), added: “We're really proud to see this important scheme being rolled out more widely following recognition of the positive partnership work to deliver the best outcomes for our citizens. Good housing has such an important impact on people’s health and wellbeing. The work done through this scheme to support vulnerable people into social housing will not only help to aid their recovery and save the NHS money, but also helps free up hospital beds for others who need them – which is even more important currently given the additional pressures the NHS faces due to COVID-19.”
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