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New report provides evidence on the impact of poor housing on people’s wellbeing

Posted: 23rd October 2020

Yorkshire & Humber AHSN has welcomed the opportunity to work with West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership (WY&H HCP) on preparing the Housing for Health Gain report. The report contains a collection of local case studies that provide evidence of how well-designed and person-centred housing support initiatives have a direct positive impact on people’s health and wellbeing.

Housing is a significant determinant of health and wellbeing (Public Health England 2018). The adverse impacts on physical and mental wellbeing of living in an unhealthy home can be profound, particularly for children and their long-term health, with a direct financial impact on local health and care systems.

For older people, living in an appropriately adapted and accessible home with support can reduce the length of hospital stay and the incidence of falls, trips and hip fractures. Tenancies that would otherwise breakdown (leading to deterioration in mental health and potential homelessness) can be sustained with proper support delivered early, especially where people have multiple, complex needs.

Across West Yorkshire and Harrogate there are a total of 60 registered social landlords who collectively provide more than 110,000 homes across general need (93k), supported housing (5k), older people (8.5k) and shared ownership (3.4k) (Source: Regulator of Social Housing, 2019).

Despite the support provided by social housing, the geography still has high levels of homelessness across the area. In 2018, a report undertaken by Shelter across West Yorkshire and Harrogate estimated almost 1,500 people were either homeless in temporary accommodation or sleeping rough

The Partnership, together with the Yorkshire and Humber AHSN, will share the report’s findings and recommendations to more than forty people representing key housing initiativea at a digital event on 23 October.

Richard Stubbs, CEO of Yorkshire & Humber AHSN added: “We were pleased to be involved in this significant project working alongside colleagues from WY&H HCP. If we want to reduce the health inequalities across our region, we cannot ignore the psychological, emotional and physical impact of poor housing on people’s lives and resilience.

The spread and adoption of innovation is a key part of our work at the AHSN and this has created an opportunity to identify and champion some of the excellent work across our area which is reflected in some of the case studies highlighted in this report”.

Andrew Van Doorn, CEO of Housing Associations’ Charitable Trust (HACT) said: “The report clearly shows that investment in quality housing and targeted support is an important tool in reducing the gap in health inequalities. Investment in private sector rental housing initiatives in particular could have a significant impact on health and social care outcomes. Regardless of which housing sector is targeted by an initiative, however, the report findings overall strongly indicate that investment in collaborative housing initiatives will lessen the financial burden on health and social care resources.”

Dr James Thomas, Clinical Chair of Bradford District and Craven Clinical Commissioning Group and Co-Chair of the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Improving Population Health Board said: “The case studies outlined in this important report provide an example of how WY&H HCP continues to drive forward innovation and new ways of working whilst highlighting health starts in the home. Working together brings with it significant health benefits for people and we are determined to make a difference. We look forward to building on this work to tackle some of the health inequalities across the area”.

Kez Hayat, Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and member of the WY&H HCP BAME network said: “Our homes are a place of sanctuary for many of us however for some people they can also be the starting point for ill-health. This could be due to issues with poor standard of housing, properties falling into disrepair or dangers in the home that can lead to an increase risk of falls leading to injuries especially for the most vulnerable. This report highlights how health can and should begin at home.”

The report highlights a number of recommendations for action, key amongst these are to:

  • Establish a West Yorkshire and Harrogate ‘Innovation in Housing’ working group to facilitate the spread and adoption of good housing initiatives
  •  Consider how the housing sector can increase its contribution to the work being undertaken across the region to improve the impact of housing on health
  •  Identify three case studies demonstrating positive impact across one place and potentially through a newly created ‘Housing in Innovation Group’, focus on the spread and adoption of the learning across the whole of WY&H HCP.

Read the full report for more information.