Housing organisations are in touch with large numbers of people living within some of the most disadvantaged neighbourhoods. They hold regular engagement events and through these and a range of face-to-face connections with individuals, they work closely with residents to design and deliver effective services. They hold data on individuals and on local populations and provide a wide range of support and other services that people living in these communities engage with on a regular basis.
Connecting with and getting messages out to populations
You could think about running joint housing and health engagement events with your local community. This is cost-effective, a good way of getting to grips with the issues people present in the round and it provides an opportunity for health and housing professionals to get to know each other and to start to think through what the response might be from both health and housing professions. If you have some simple health related messages you want to get out to the local population, housing organisations can be a very effective channel. Word of mouth is a very powerful, and routes to contact include:
With their own residents
- when carrying out repairs to homes – tradespeople are trained to pass on information to residents and pick up on any issues that might be affecting the individual
- at the local housing office
- via tenant representatives who volunteer to be a channel of communication between local residents and their landlord
- supportive face-to-face contact with the most vulnerable people at a time when they are struggling – most landlords offer advice to people who are struggling to pay their rent t and they often pick up other difficulties people are facing at the same time
With the wider community
- through health and wellbeing hubs established within sheltered housing schemes
- through special interest and educational groups and clubs eg. computer training
- through fun days, engagement events, and other local events
Connecting with and finding solutions for people who are ‘at risk’ of poor health
Housing organisations and local authorities are well placed to spot and connect with vulnerable people. Drawing on several sources of data, they can identify people who are vulnerable in one way or another and work with them in a holistic, person-centred way to make sure they are connected to the right people and local agencies who can help them. They frequently find people with issues that, if not dealt with in a timely way, can develop into chronic health problems requiring expensive NHS treatments and even emergency hospitalisation.
Their work will be much stronger if they are able to combine their data with health-related data held by GPs, Commissioning Support Units and others including, and information emerging from risk analysis and stratification from the register. A more rounded way of addressing the needs identified could be achieved through partnerships between housing, primary care and local authorities.
Meeting non-medical needs of high users of NHS Services
Some housing organisations go out of their way to identify people who use NHS services inappropriately and find ways of reducing the demand. Here is an interim report from Family Mosaic of their Health begins at home programme. More could do this sort of work, and widen it to include private residents, if they were commissioned to do so.
Case Study: Joint resident engagement in Brent