A senior leader for West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership explains what is being done in Wakefield to help people with healthy housing:
The availability of affordable healthy food is often determined by where people live, and these factors help enable people to manage their wellbeing better.
Safe and warm housing is also a basic need, and fuel poverty in the Wakefield District is on the rise with around 15,000 households – or 10% – living with fuel costs which put their income below the poverty line.
For people without enough money to heat a house it can lead to the deterioration of some medical conditions. It can also mean people face a difficult choice between heating and eating.
In Wakefield we’ve started to build partnerships to understand the impact of housing on health care and, where housing issues are present, address how we can make hospital discharge more efficient.
Called the Wakefield Housing Health and Social Care Partnership (HHSCP) it has already made a huge difference thanks to NHS Wakefield Clinical Commissioning Group, Wakefield Council, WDH, West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service and community organisations working together.
Spreading this approach will be a key part of the long term plan for the NHS.
This is also an important part of the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership (WYHHCP) approach, where Wakefield is one of six local areas included. The others are Bradford District and Craven; Calderdale, Harrogate, Kirklees and Leeds.
The partnership is one of the most advanced systems in England – it has strong local leadership and ambitious plans to strengthen primary care and integrate services for the benefit of local communities.
Poor housing and the impact on health is one area we have pledged to tackle together; it costs the NHS £1.4bn a year but by reducing excess cold to an acceptable level alone we could save £848m nationally and, more importantly, improve people’s lives.
It is also estimated that poor housing conditions are responsible for over 1,164 harmful events requiring medical treatment every year in Wakefield.
Councillor Denise Jeffery, Wakefield Council’s Cabinet Member for Economic Growth and Regeneration, said: “20% of homes in the Wakefield district are privately rented. While the majority of landlords provide well maintained homes, unfortunately some are unsafe and badly managed.”
The Responsible Landlord Scheme, one of the most successful in the country, has 250 accredited landlords in the district – accounting for nearly 7,000 properties.
“We have other home energy efficiency and home improvement schemes to help residents save energy, be warmer and healthier in their homes. Through these initiatives we have installed over 10,500 heating and insulation measures, benefitting over 8,000 households since 2006,” she added.
Tom Stannard, Wakefield Council’s Corporate Director for Economic Growth and Regeneration, said: “We are working to improve conditions, take enforcement action against rogue landlords where necessary and support tenants to ensure they are treated fairly.”
Owning more than 31,500 homes, WDH is one of the country’s biggest social housing providers. WDH place great value on the health and wellbeing of their tenants and has invested in a range of services to support healthy lifestyles.
Since 2005, WDH has invested over £1bn in the Wakefield District, including upgrading its homes to the ‘Wakefield Standard’.
WDH is also committed to building new homes and during 2017/2018 invested £28.9m in adding 300 new social rented homes to its property portfolio.
Housing officers are often the first household contact with services. This can place the sector in a prime position to identify issues such as drug, alcohol abuse and mental health problems early. They also have a team of occupational therapists who assess for adaptations and home moves for medical reasons.
A new housing support coordinator in Wakefield is also making a huge difference to the lives of people with mental health problems by working with South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust in Fieldhead Hospital. They have supported over 46 people in the last six months, including those who were homeless, by reducing their length of stay in hospital.
In 2015, through the New Models of Care Programme Wakefield’s Enhanced Health in Care Home pilot was one of 50 chosen – it aimed to tackle loneliness and fragmented care by joining up services for older people in care homes and independent living schemes. Originally launched in March 2015, the pilot worked across 15 care homes and two extra care facilities.
Sarah Roxby, Associate Director – Health, Housing and Transformation from WDH said: “Tenants were becoming socially isolated in their own home as the packages of care did not facilitate the attendance at social gatherings. As part of the pilot, at our Croftlands Extra Care scheme in Ossett, we focussed on increasing the social activity for residents, working alongside a ‘community anchor’. They helped to run additional activities but, more importantly, facilitated the tenants to attend.”
The results were significant: in 2014 / 2015 the team identified that 38% of tenancies terminated were due to residents moving into residential or nursing care. When this was reviewed in 2015 / 2016, this had reduced to 14% and in the following year this figure had dropped to zero.
Following the success of the pilot, this was expanded in 2017 to 27 care homes and six WDH independent living schemes – formerly sheltered housing – covering 1,594 active beds.
It’s great Partnership working. There are lots of other excellent examples across WYH: “The benefit of our Partnership is that we can see them, share them and spread them around for the benefit of everyone,” said Rob Webster, CEO Lead for WYH HCP.