Time to be bold and get involved

By Andrew van Doorn - on 21/10/2020

Over the past seven months, social housing organisations have played a significant role in responding to the Covid-19 pandemic. This has included providing practical support to their residents and linking them to the other services available locally. Now in the grip of a second wave of the pandemic, it will be critical for social housing providers to be bold in their approach.

One key role they can play is in working with health at a local, place-based level. During the first phase of the pandemic, some housing associations were able to ignite existing relationships with local health providers to coordinate their responses to the crisis. They were already engaged and able to liaise with health colleagues, understanding the language to use and the role they could best play, and effectively support their residents and local communities.

Other housing associations were less well placed. For them, taking the first steps in working with health was a challenge.

The implementation of the NHS Long-Term Plan has resulted in new forms of integrated care being developed across England. As the health and care sectors begin to talk about “recovery” and “reset” in the context of Covid-19, their approach to integration is changing.  

There has been an acceleration in integrated working across the NHS, as well as between the NHS and community partners. Significant amounts of care services have been moved online and stronger relationships between health, care, housing and community services have been forged through the emergency.

The likelihood is that this trend will continue, as the health sector responds to the massive increase in mental and physical ill health in the short and medium terms: with rising unemployment, for example, we can expect to see 10 million people needing new or additional mental health support. 

As anchor institutions rooted in local communities, social housing organisations are ideally positioned to play a key role in responding to this emerging need. With their knowledge of the wider socio-economic and environmental circumstances that play out at local level, they hold the key to effectively tackling the health inequalities that have become so stark. 

But to play this role, housing organisations need to know what is driving the current and future NHS integration agenda, how to engage with the new and emerging collaborations, and how best to demonstrate their value.

HACT’s Integrated Care Systems and Housing development programme has been designed to help housing organisations engage with health organisations at a place-based level, particularly through Integrated Care Systems. 

Over 25 housing associations have already benefitted from our previous development programmes. Beginning in December 2020, this new online programme will bring delegates together so they can: 

• strengthen their understanding of how to engage with their local health colleagues; 

• build awareness of the competencies needed to deliver within a healthcare setting;

• identify partnering opportunities with health; 

• describe and refine their offer to NHS providers and commissioners;

• build their credibility as potential partners with the health sector.

“HACT has put together a programme that gives participants opportunities to learn from people in the NHS, whether they are working at a strategic level or people who are more involved at a delivery level,” said Lawrence Santcross, Chief Executive, Transform Housing. “The development programme also provides good networking opportunities and will be of relevance to senior members of staff.”

The programme gives delegates a space to explore possibilities for better engagement with NHS colleagues in order to deliver new services or make the most of existing relationships. It will help you to develop effective partnerships with the NHS and understand the value of place in health and social care.

It is designed for people in all parts of housing, in specialist and supported housing, general needs, community investment and strategy. It is delivered over four months with expert input from a range of senior people working in the NHS, facilitated together with Peter Molyneux, Chair of Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

The degree of change that we’ve witnessed over the past seven months, as a sector and a country, has been unprecedented. We’ve seen public and private sector organisations move at real speed to meet the immediate needs of their communities. As we head into an uncertain winter, there will undoubtably be more change to come. 

Now, more than ever, is the time is for housing to be bold get involved.

Find out more about the Integrated Care Systems and Housing Development Programme or contact Andrew van Doorn for an informal conversation about the programme. 

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