Health and housing agenda here to stay

In recent years, health and housing professionals have been tiptoeing around together like an anxious newlywed couple; proud of the new-found status of their relationship but uneasy about whether their bold commitments to each other hold the substance they’ve been publically proclaiming.

That’s why we’re so excited here at South Yorkshire Housing Association by the launch of the NHS England Quick Guide: Health and Housing. It confirms loud and clear that the health and housing agenda is here to stay.

At SYHA, we see a home as just the beginning.  From supported living schemes that bring people with mental health conditions back from expensive out-of-area placements to social prescribing services for GP “frequent flyers,” our role and reach is integral to health improvement. We tackle challenging health agendas in new and innovative ways. Whether it’s cocktail parties and taekwondo groups for older people at risk of loneliness or our therapeutic approach to employment services, we bring solutions that are radical in their design but rooted in our core values and in the communities we’re here to serve.

One of those core values is co-production; our customers co-design and co-deliver everything we do. SYHA has recently secured funding from the Department of Health to deliver a 3-year project in partnership with health, care and housing commissioners. Co:Create facilitates fundamentally different approaches to time-old challenges. Using a range of methodologies, including behavioural insights and design thinking, Co:Create encourages commissioners to think differently about the role that customers can take in developing strategy, commissioning services and assessing impact. With an asset-based and person-centred starting point, Co:Create takes advice from Einstein (always a good starting point!): “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them”

In reducing A&E admissions or re-designing intermediate care solutions, Co:Create is working to connect human stories to strategy. For example, Co:Create will train people who access health and social care services to become co-commissioners, bringing a unique and often-overlooked customer perspective to procurement decisions. We’ll also support NHS and Local Authority colleagues to involve communities more often and more effectively in the development of commissioning strategies. We believe that co-production has transformative power. By putting people at the heart of future services, we can begin to talk about the creation of healthier, happier communities without the artificial boundaries of different sectors. Our agenda isn’t about Health and Housing; it’s about people.

It’s really exciting to be bringing commissioners, customers and creatives together to advance this shared agenda. It won’t be easy. Like confidential notes from marriage counselling, we’ll give the good, the bad and the ugly truths about the health and housing relationship.

Watch this space for our next blog!

Ruby Smith is Head of Co-design and Improvement.

Ruby Smith is an experienced senior leader in housing, health and social care. Ruby joined South Yorkshire Housing Association (SYHA) as Head of Co-design and Improvement in 2013. SYHA is a social landlord with approximately 6,000 homes across Sheffield. The LiveWell department combines housing, health and care expertise to provide person-centred, integrated health and housing solutions. Ruby is part of the senior leadership team at SYHA, leading the Co-Design and Improvement team to deliver a range of co-designed health integration projects, including Over2You, Co:Create and Ageing Better. She also works with a range of organisations, including Sheffield Teaching Hospitals and Sheffield Universities, to facilitate patient and customer involvement in their work.


  1. Kassander says:

    I am SERIOUSLY concerned about the content and perspectives presented in this article:
    Starting with the antediluvian view of newly-weds thru’ to a promise to break the confidentiality vows respected by true professionals
    After the mandatory squeals of excitement we are told that “people with mental health conditions are brought back from out-of-area placements” because they’re ‘expensive’.
    NOT that they’re better for the patients and their relatives
    So if much cheaper accommodation could be provided elsewhere then off those patients would go?
    Then the buzz word “co-production”, which if NHSE Citizen is anything to go by, is a sham, we reach another mandatory insert a quote from Einstein.
    Except it isn’t, he never ‘said’ it.
    Those are a few examples only
    Modern medicine is supposedly based on evidence, soundly researched, scientifically proven, evidence.
    All associated with it should meet those same criteria
    Are you sure Ms Smith that your article meets those criteria?

  2. John King says:

    We are working on simulating the impact of joined up housing and health on outcomes. Interesting article.

    • Kassander says:

      For a non-initiate, could you ‘un-pack’ that, please?

      And – who are ‘we’, please?