Health and Housing – Sharing a passion for prevention……….

Health and Housing – Sharing a passion for prevention……….

Last year Sitra ran a series of regional events http://bit.ly/gBcBsT  looking at bringing together health and housing and understanding how each other could better communicate and understand our relative contributions to work with the most vulnerable.

Sitra have been continuing these debates with some smaller roundtables. The second of these was held yesterday in London – and was a great opportunity to get upto date on some examples of good practice – but also an insight into the challenges ahead.

The roundtable focussed on four areas. The joined up agenda around prevention – with particular reference to further opportunities to feed into the Caring for Our Futures White Paper. The new role for public health within Local Authorities – of which almost no providers or commissioners present had felt an impact.  The development of Health and Wellbeing boards – and future opportunities to influence their understanding and prioritisation of housing and housing support and finally Clinical Commissioning Groups and the emergent Commissioning Support Organisations.

Whilst these areas of debate are not new, what struck me is how much there was still to learn – on both sides. Many commissioners with a Supporting People background had not been able to effectively make a connection with developing public health agenda within the local authority. Language barriers remained an issue of key concern, the jargonised worlds of both health and housing were keeping the silo walls high. The ability to evidence need was still of concern, with many Joint Strategic Needs Assessments still not including Housing related support.

However, as ever, the innovation and drive of those with a passion for prevention was finding a way. Comments around success ‘in spite of’ rather than ‘because of’ seemed ever relevant – but positive steps included:-

  • Providers were making direct approaches to individual Health and Well Being boards to encourage them to establish sub structures to address the needs of vulnerable and marginalised individuals
  • Commissioners developing positive road maps to show the connections between public health and housing
  • Examples of capital as the lever, with PCTs and Foundation Trusts responding positively to approaches to speed up hospital discharge

There is still much work to be done in the coming year, and Sitra will continue to work directly with both the health and housing sector to make clear ‘what works’ and to find productive ways to challenge the barriers which pour water on the shared passion.

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