Safe, quality housing is essential to maintain independence: keeping people safe and well at home, enabling as much choice and control in their lives as possible, writes David Pearson.

HSJ Partners logo

This is paid-for content from our commercial partners. Find out more

The key focus of Integrated Care Systems is the successful combination of parts of the health service with social care. Often, we find ourselves preoccupied with hospital beds and the universal aspiration to prevent the need for their use, wherever possible. In Nottingham and Nottinghamshire, we have 2,000 hospital beds, and 4,000 beds in residential and nursing care. But if we are to truly fulfil our aspirations and those of the people we look after, it’s vital to also focus on the care, support and treatment for those sleeping in over a million beds in Nottinghamshire - the beds in people’s own homes.

Sponsored byNHS England and NHS Improvement 1

It is therefore exciting to see the fruits of work we have undertaken described within a commissioned report: “Harnessing Housing Support: Nottingham Housing to Health Service”.

Our home is a major determinant of our health, as poor housing is linked to physical and mental health problems; and with 1 in 3 people living in poor quality housing, the associated effects are estimated to cost the NHS £1.4bn a year, and the social and economic cost is estimated in the region of £18bn. Safe, quality housing is essential to maintaining independence: keeping people safe and well at home, enabling as much choice and control in their lives as possible. This is the galvanising force behind the movement to integrate in local places.

With this in mind, back in 2016 the first Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Sustainability and Transformation Partnersip made housing one of our major workstreams. Any approach to population health management will seek to generate the right housing solutions, not simply to free up other resources in the short-term, but to ensure that the drivers of poor health and risk are addressed. Whilst the approach undoubtedly makes sense in terms of value for money, having a safe, secure and appropriate place to live in which we can meet our basic human needs is a fundamental plank of being able to sustain people’s health and wellbeing.

I am very pleased that as part of the Nottingham Housing to Health Service, new partnerships have enabled progress and deepened our understanding of how to make things work within and across established processes, regardless of our separate responsibilities and very different funding streams. The report provides very strong evidence of the benefits to the people of Nottingham and the efficiency of the system and describes the practical steps that helped it to happen.

Look beyond the impressive analysis and detail. Read and contemplate the difference this has made to the lives of David, who since moving home no longer needs a care package and district nurse visits and is in much better health, or Michael, who is now safe in his first ever tenancy, with an income and happy in a wheelchair-accessible Independent Living property.

Consider how the service has helped avoid 23,000 days of delayed transfers of care from NHS or social care facilities; and how the pressure on hospitals has improved because re-admissions per person have reduced from four to two per year following housing support; or thanks to the help of the service, the 98 per cent of patients who now feel safe in their home. Of course, this also helps to ensure that people are not admitted to residential care for want of housing that is appropriate to their needs.