31 October, 2022

Using place-based services to alleviate NHS pressures

The NHS is under extreme pressure. Demands for services have increased, across all parts of the NHS – primary and community care, acute care, and mental health. Where once we talked about winter pressures, it is now all year round.  

Workforce is also a major challenge, with over 132,000 vacancies (around 10% of the total workforce). The lack of investment in social care is also reaching critical levels, with even more vacancies being reported than in the NHS (around 165,000 posts). All of this is contributing to the increasing pressures and sense of crisis across both health and social care. 

How can connecting with housing help?  

As pressures mount, what can social landlords do to help? Often, physical housing solutions based on ‘bricks and mortar’ take time to happen. They are certainly possible, and there are lots of great examples across the country where local collaborations are supporting new Home First and Discharge to Assess models and bringing online transitional step-down housing to improve pathway flow. These often need longer-term planning to be effective. 

But social landlords are so much more than just the providers of housing. They support in so many ways the most vulnerable in our communities and it is here where we can look to reduce demand. 

We know that health inequalities are increasing. We know that the cost-of-living crisis will have a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable living in our communities. And we know that people living in social housing often have lower incomes and experience the worst inequalities. 

As place-based organisations and investors in their communities, housing associations play a key role in providing services to those most at risk. They are already providing the types of outreach services that can reduce health inequalities. By working closely with local health organisations, they can provide additional services and resources in the immediate term, as well as support in developing a longer-term engagement strategies for the future, in order to alleviate future pressures.   

HACT has been working closely with Frimley Health and Care Partnership to do just that.  

As a provider of health and care for 800,000 people, Frimley Health and Care recognised the impact of wider social determinants on health, and in particular, on children and young people. As a result, they decided to develop a strategy to increase spending on the VCSE sector, including housing associations. They also wanted to support families over the winter who may struggle with their heating and other costs. 

In starting to support this strategy, we are using our Community Insight tool to map all the housing associations in their locality. We are also looking a key indicators, such as fuel poverty, the vulnerability Index , and the Community Needs Index, to enhance the patient level data they hold about people and communities. Working with their data analysts, we are identify priority neighbourhoods where support is most needed. 

With this information, we can identify which housing associations have active community investment programmes, providing much needed support for people during this cost of living crisis. From this we can broker new relationships and explore co-investment that enhances the support already available and builds on the community-based interventions, infrastructure and partners that housing associations already have in place.  

The final phase involves bringing together both NHS Frimley and local housing associations and their key VCSE partners, face-to-face to develop the plan for greater immediate and longer-term collaboration and support.  

Through this project, NHS Frimley is leveraging its data and its financial support to enable local housing organisations to deliver services that can reduce future demand on the NHS provision and support individuals in the community.  

Frimley is not unique and this kind of collaboration can happen everywhere. Together, health and social care working with their housing and VCSE partners can make an impact, this winter and beyond. 

Let's talk

If you would like to know more about how HACT can connect you with help from the housing sector, or vice versa. Contact HACT Health & Research Lead Sarah Parsons

Get in touch