31 January, 2024

Health and housing case study: Sussex Partnership Foundation Trust (SPFT) 

Addressing the Intersection of Housing and Health for Improved Patient Outcomes

Background & Initial Challenge

“Last year, SPFT were operating at 20-25% delays with an associated cost of £5-£6m. This year, through a collaborative effort, delays have reduced to a figure of 8-9%

Impact of the collaboration

HACT’s expertise in both health and housing allowed SPFT to bring these two elements together under one cohesive system.

HACT supported the system to adopt a more strategic perspective, identifying its position within the governance framework of the emerging Integrated Care System (ICS).

Additionally, HACT led the development of a tangible programme of work, including the creation of a comprehensive mental health and housing strategy.

HACT left SPFT and their partners with a clear path forward, and a programme of work they could implement themselves.

HACT were able to embed housing expertise within the new system, coproducing housing policies and processes with housing colleagues within the local authorities to identify issues early, and provide support at the right time in partnership with the local authorities.

Patient input improved by liaising with them earlier with regards to their housing situation.

Prior to HACT’s involvement, patients were not asked about their housing situation until discharge. These questions include whether their accommodation is suitable or if the patient has been threatened with homelessness.

When housing and health work collaboratively to garner this information at the start of a patient’s process, a more suitable, patient-centred outcome can be worked towards.


The result

The resulting collaboration between housing and health has led to an increase in the resolution of simple problems across the board. The sharing of expertise and guidance from housing workers recruited into the health system has led to the identification of several issues that are relatively easy to resolve.

This integrated approach has led to better support when patients are on the ward, and when they return to their communities after they have been discharged.

There has been a significant reduction in discharge delays form inpatient services due to housing barriers:

All in all, HACT brought a sense of leadership around the thinking and direction of travel nationally, which has helped connect parts of the system together, kickstart Sussex on this journey, and transform the conversations that had already been taking place across the system into tangible, actionable work. 


Next Steps

SPFT plans to expand the housing team across Sussex, building on successes and gathering evidence for sustainable funding. The focus is on reciprocal learning, bringing health into housing and sharing health expertise to create health-led supported housing offers.  


Where do you start?

The issues highlighted in this case study need to be put front and centre in terms of focus and financial commitment. 

The relationship between health and housing can start to form once actual shared work begins on an operational level; only then can progress be recorded and measured. 

For this to happen, it needs to be lined up through the Integrated Care System (ICS) so it becomes a systemic approach with input from all partners, as opposed to a voluntary approach. 

On that same note, flexibility is required to allow for different areas of the system to take ownership and develop their own mental health and housing plans. 



Limitations arise from housing partners’ inconsistent engagement, particularly local authority housing partners. This leads to a feeling of actions being “done towards” rather than “done with”, in a consent-based capacity.


Conclusion /Key Insights

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Andrew van Doorn, Chief Executive

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