Top tips for housing organisations when communicating with GPs and CCGs

The housing sector is alien to health professionals. Is it hard to understand and is much less standardised than GP practices and primary care, making it difficult for busy GPs and CCGs to understand what housing can do in their locality and who to talk to. Housing organisations can help the process along in a number of ways. Here are some suggestions.

 

  • Communicate succinctly. Assume that GPs, CCGs and other health partners are pushed for time – make sure you start the conversation with a few myth-busters or ‘big facts’ about your organisation or partnership and what it could do that make them sit up and take notice. Don’t start from the beginning, it will take too long!

 

  • Find the strategic lead. Identify who is leading your GP practices and aim to talk to them. This might be the CCG, although increasingly it may be provider GPs and managers leading local networks or federations. Practice Managers are not tied to a regime of 10 minute consultations with patients and potentially have more time to engage with partners.

 

  • Focus on their priorities. Put some effort into understanding what matters most to your GP practices, and develop a proposal that responds to it.

 

  • The NHS Five Year Forward View. Work out how your offer to health might fit into one of the new models listed in the Forward View, and use that as the context of your conversations.

 

  • Don’t assume GPs are well connected. In some areas the link through the CCG to the Health and Wellbeing Board and Strategy is good, but there is little connectivity in others.

 

  • Single conversation. GPs find it hard to know why there are so many housing providers, what each does and who they should be talking to. Operate together with other local housing providers to put together a single locality health and wellbeing ‘offer’ from housing that is concise and coherent and that addresses the preoccupations and priorities of local health partners, can work.

 

  • Start small. Aim to get one or two focused pieces of work up and running and aspire to expand your portfolio later on.

 

  • Solutions for morbidities. Develop an approach to wrapping services around particular GP patients with particular illnesses (morbidities). Eg. you could offer a specific service to address cold, damp housing inhabited by children with asthma.

 

  • Community leadership. If you are a major housing provider in a locality, then you can develop a community leadership role around health and wellbeing. This might involve offering up advice relating to an area of work without necessarily expecting to win every contract or it might involve leading or being part of consortia, winning and delivering contracts with others.

 

  • Encourage co-creation. Persuade CCGs to move away from traditional solutions and co-create new solutions with you and your residents.

 

  • Be assertive and do deals. Get on the front foot, seek out health partners that are willing to working with you. Make specific – and evidenced – offers on condition that health partners take specific actions. Make it really clear what you can do for them and what you need them to do to make it happen.