About this resource

This Housing for Health website is intended to provide easily digestible information about housing and some insights into ways in which new health-housing partnerships, might achieve the necessary transformation in health.

It was prepared following interviews with General Practitioners, Clinical Commissioners, Practice Managers and other community health professionals.

New Models of Care

The NHS 5YFV sets a new direction for the NHS. It points out that the continuing advances in patient care have come at a high cost – that of continuing preventable illness and entrenched health inequalities – and it makes clear that achieving ‘a radical upgrade in prevention’ will require new partnerships with organisations outside the NHS.

One blind spot in the Forward View is the role that housing can play, and to some extent is already playing, in orchestrating this transformation in health. Housing organisations can be partners with health, playing roles in several of the new models of care including Multi-speciality Community Providers, Primary Acute Care Services and Enhanced Health in Care Homes.

Housing organisations have been doing ‘prevention’ for many decades. They have knowledge, skills and experience that can be quickly harnessed to develop better, less expensive out-of-hospital forms of preventative care.

New directives relating to housing

While the main focus has been on integration of health and social care, there are also new directives for the NHS relating to housing:

  • The Care Act 2014 states that “the provision of housing accommodation is a health-related provision” in relation to duty on the NHS, clinical commissioning groups and local authorities to promote integration of care and support, health and health-related provision.
  • NICE Guidance on “Excess winter deaths and morbidity and the health risks associated with cold homes” published in March 2015 includes recommendations to identify people at risk of ill health from living in a cold home and provide tailored solutions accessed through a single point of contact health and housing referral service. It also contains provisions on discharging vulnerable people from health or social care settings to a warm home
  • Memorandum_of_Understanding to support joint action on improving health through the home. Signed by NHS England, Public Health England, Department of Health and other health and housing organisations

Shared Values – Shared Histories

There are many parallels between health and housing today. The professions share similar values and aims – to help people to live healthy, full and productive lives. They have a close connection with the individuals and communities they serve. And they are both being affected by continuing austerity and changes to welfare.

Health and housing also have a shared history. The Public Health Act 1875, to combat filthy urban living conditions, led to the government prohibiting the construction of shoddy housing. And throughout the late 19th century health officials addressed many housing-related issues such as inadequate ventilation, over-crowding, poor sanitation and fire hazards. Even when the NHS was established in 1948, Minister Aneurin Bevin held portfolios for both Health and Housing.

The connections between housing on health professions became much weaker following the immediate post-war period as the NHS and the bio-medical model of health developed and thrived. The connections are starting to be re-discovered and re-established with the renewed focus on preventative health.