How, exactly, should primary care and health commissioners interface with housing?

At a strategic level

At a practical level

As an individual GP

Keeping up to date with developments in housing

At a strategic level, groups of general practices working together and CCGs should seek to build a relationship with key local housing organisations.

Building a relationship and co-creating with housing organisations is the best way to discover new preventative solutions or speed up existing arrangements to services to patients and populations.

If you decide to employ a ‘community health connector’ as suggested in Think Big Act Now, this would be the right person to build a relationship with housing providers. For more information about who to talk to in your locality, click here.

Initially, you might want to focus discussions on a specific issue or outcome you want to achieve, such as social prescribing or reducing winter pressures through dealing with cold homes. As you get to understand what they do and how they work, you may find other areas you can collaborate on.

Housing organisations may be prepared to be involved in partnerships. They are also likely to want to tender for some contracts, including through consortia.

As a CCG, you should consider commissioning them to deliver both standard services and new innovative services that will help you deliver better care to patients/people within the community.

At a practice level, you should explore the potential for housing organisations to work from your surgery to address some of the non-medical needs of your patients.

There are many ways you could work with housing providers as an individual practice. For example, you could explore whether they could:

  • do social prescribing for patients, especially frequent presenters
  • connect your patients with relevant local agencies who can help them
  • seek out those in the community who are at risk of poor health outcomes and visit them in their homes – housing organisation can quickly identify ways to reduce risks to their health and wellbeing
  • handhold your older and disabled patients through a process of planning ahead for suitable housing they can manage

As an individual GP, you should be open to working alongside housing organisations as they play roles in keeping your patients well.

At the least, you need to be prepared to refer patients into relevant preventative health and wellbeing programmes they run in the locality, as and when appropriate.

Keeping up to date with developments in housing

You may want to keep up to date with developments in health and housing, and housing issues which may be effecting the health of your population. Useful sources of up to date information, news and comment include:

Housing LIN: www.housinglin.org.uk

Chartered Institute of Housing: www.cih.org

National Housing Federation: www.housing.org.uk

Placeshapers: www.placeshapers.org

Sitra: www.sitra.org/home