Last week saw the start of a series of free events we are running in partnership with the National Housing Federation (NHF) looking at how health and housing can be brought closer together – Health and housing: keeping the conversation going.
The first event ran in November and was chaired by the Carolyn Heaney, who is the Deputy Regional Director for Social Care and Local Partnerships for Yorkshire and Humber. Carolyn did a fantastic job of setting the scene and the challenges ahead. Her background in the Department of Health served her well – as she had been working on the contribution of the Voluntary and Community Sector to the health agenda. An easy convert some might say!
Over the period of the day, we were able to collectively pick up on each of the changes understood within the emerging agenda, and with many of the right people in the room, we were able to begin to really see some opportunities and many of the pitfalls inherent in the new agenda. The full details of the event will shortly be posted on the web, including all presentations and background papers.
So – I wanted to share with you a couple of the challenges posed to the audience at the event:
Voices of reason
We were very lucky to have Gary Staniforth and Andrew King from the Bradford Supporting People Service User Forum present from their perspective of Experts by Experience. Hearing about the changes they have made in their lives, and the role that support services and health services had played in making that happen brought the issue in hand clearly to life. However, how does the future agenda further promote this role? Will organisations like Healthwatch take in the issues and concerns of those in receipt of housing, care and support, rather than focusing on more medically based concerns?
All aboard the Starship ‘Enterprise’
The Health White paper discusses the aspiration for the NHS to create the largest social enterprise market in the world. It challenges GP consortia and commissioners of the future to work with ‘any willing provider’. While immediate thoughts may turn to increased competition, the presence of untested providers in the market and a downward price war – the conference was reminded of the chance that could slip through our hands. Housing, care and support providers are extremely well placed to deliver a range of community-based health services, as well as continuing to support people in retaining independence and maintaining tenancy. So, why not get out there and think about how and why services could be changed to meet this emerging market? There are a few examples emerging where organisations have taken up the challenge – but now is not the time to sit back and wait – the market will be shaped and formed by those willing to leap into the ‘enterprise zone’ and housing care and support providers need to be in with those place makers.
If you want to be part of these debates – then make sure you get to the health and housing events running in the West Midlands, South East, East Midlands, South West, London, North East, East and North West.