7 February, 2023

What has the workforce challenges of the health sector got to do with housing?

You might already be aware that a partnership between the health and housing sector can be beneficial for communities but we explore some of the work we have done in areas across the UK to explore how these partnerships can directly improve workforce challenges.

Sarah Parsons

HACT Health & Research Lead

The NHS is the biggest employer in Europe, with 1.2m workers. Another 1.1m toil in social care. Yet as we are all too aware, many more recruits are needed. Current statistics show that there are over 133,000 vacancies in the NHS; if things stay on their current trajectory, the think tanks predict that there will be a staggering 250,000 NHS vacancies in a decade. Then, of course, there is social care. Data shows that whilst we will need 480,000 extra people working in social care by 2035, we already have 165,000 vacancies every day and 28% of the workforce aged 55 or over may retire in the next 10 years.

Things need to change, and FAST

What part can social housing play at the neighbourhood and place level?

HACT has been working with various organisations across the health and housing sectors to look at how both recruitment and retention of health and care staff can be improved through improved partnership working between housing associations and NHS Trusts. That could be through training and recruitment programmes jointly managed between housing associations and their local Trust, as seen in our work with Cheshire and Merseyside Health and Care Partnership and similarly with whg and their local Trust. A Memorandum of Understanding between housing providers in the Liverpool City Region (LCR) and the NHS was born out of a collaboration with Torus, Regenda and Cobalt to scope the opportunities for closer collaboration around the shared workforce challenges between housing and health. Similarly, HACT’s evaluation of whg’s Social Prescribing Service collated learnings to help shape service design, embed a durable culture of continuous improvement going forward and make a case to local health partners for collaborative investment and partnership working. As part of this, we saw how whg are helping customers into employment through their delivery of short health-based training courses which result in guaranteed interviews with the local hospital Trust; an excellent way to address workforce issues in the NHS.

Alternatively, staff recruitment and retention could be improved by looking at affordable housing solutions that will attract and retain new and existing staff who seek a good standard of family accommodation in a local community setting, as we saw in our work with Dorset Healthcare NHS Trust. Part of this project looked at the housing needs of Trust and Council staff. This was so that Dorset Healthcare could better understand how to support current employees with their living requirements and to inform how it could make the accommodation more accessible and encourage new staff into the area by addressing their requirements for affordable housing.

Addressing the numbers of people entering and remaining in the NHS and social care workplace will boost the capacity and resilience of the NHS through increasing staff numbers and, ultimately, bed availability. It is a sad fact that many beds lie unused in hospitals; the bed shortage is not a physical one; it is a practical one.

Why not get in touch with us here at HACT to hear about the work we have already done around these issues and discuss how we could support you to apply this within your own locality.

Let's talk

To learn more about connecting the health and housing sector, contact HACT Health & Research Lead Sarah Parsons

get in touch