Latest Public Sector News

03.08.12

Social housing could relieve pressure on the NHS

Housing associations were told yesterday they have a large role in easing demand on the NHS and ensuring a better quality of life for terminally ill people. 

Delegates at the Chartered Institute of Housing’s Older People’s Conference were addressed by Rachael Byrne, executive director of care and support at Home Group, who gave a speech about on the topic of palliative care and helping people to die at home. 

Byrne outlined the results of the ‘A Good Death’ scheme that Home Group’s care and support division, Stonham, launched in 2011. The scheme worked alongside organisations in the North East ranging from the NHS, Public Health NE and Age UK to Newcastle Science City and Newcastle University. It projected savings for the NHS of £1,800 per person by adopting recommended measures. 

Home Group wants housing associations to help improve standards of living in vulnerable households as this is shown to significantly reduce costs to the NHS when dealing with patients requiring end of life care. 

Around 20% of NHS spending is linked to end-of-life care, with many patients nearing the end of their life regularly being admitted to hospitals. Having better housing conditions typically reduces the need to be admitted and provides a safer environment so patients can return home sooner, reducing time spent in hospital. The typical cost of admission to hospital is £2,334, while a short stay is £549. 

The savings come in addition to trying to allow the terminally ill to spend as much time, and if possible die, at home with their family rather than in hospital, something that 66% people with terminal illnesses have expressed as a major desire. 

Byrne said: “The institutionalised ways we cope with dying do not align with how most of us aspire to die. Two thirds want to die at home with family and friends nearby, cared for, free from pain, with medical support available when needed. 

“Yet by 2030 65% will die in hospitals and care homes, cut off from friends and family, dependent on systems and procedures that feel impersonal and which too often offer them little dignity.” 

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