Come in! The door is open…….#widerworkforce

Two reports out today show how the housing workforce can and does play a significant role in supporting people’s effective discharge from hospital, and their ability to live independently and healthily at home.

The Royal Society of Public Health have produced a new report on how the #widerworkforce can play a part in the delivery of public health messages. Once you get behind todays media fascination with getting your barber or your barmaid to tip you a wink about health checks – there is a critical message about how to engage the wider workforce.

I was delighted to see the leadership role of housing recognised within the report, and Sitra’s recent research on behalf of Public Health England showed that the housing sector was already contributing to the delivery of healthy conversations, supporting positive behaviour change and increased partnership working across health and housing. Clearly, the housing workforce has huge amounts to contribute to the promotion of better health in communities as one of the key trusted professionals crossing the threshold. In addition, housing provides a critical piece of the healthy living jigsaw, contributing invaluable expertise on the impact of the built environment on an individual’s ability to enjoy healthy independent lives at home.

Today, Healthwatch England also published their report ‘Safely Home’, bringing evidence from the experiences of over 3000 people leaving hospitals and care settings. This report particularly hones in on the experience of older people, homeless people and people with mental health problems. The report has five key messages about what people were experiencing when leaving hospital – poor co-ordination between services, not being involved in decision making , not having their full set of needs met, experiencing stigmatisation for their condition and feeling left alone without the services they need. On reading the report, I was heartened to see a number of good practice examples highlighting the effectiveness of an integrated approach between health and housing. However, despite having the term ‘home’ in the title there is clearly much to be done at both a strategic and operational level to securely bring housing and housing into the frame in order to improve the experience of those coming ‘home’ from acute care.

We know from the 2013 DCLG English Housing survey that 3.7 million households live in social housing, and an ever growing number of these households will be populated by exactly the people that both Healthwatch and the RSPH reports highlight as critical to reach. Both reports give greater strength to the message stated in the Care Act 2014 that, ‘housing is a health related service’ and our research with Sitra members shows that there is a skilled and willing workforce who are holding the door to health wide open……

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