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Good housing can improve health – NHF

A new report from the National Housing Federation (NHF) has found that integrating housing with health and social care can improve the lives of vulnerable and older people, whilst saving thousands of pounds in care costs.

The NHF found that local authorities, housing providers, GPs and acute trusts working together to provide an alternative care pathway reduced the demand an individual has for other services, and improved their quality of life.

Housing people in specially-adapted homes can avoid the expense of residential care homes, whilst regular visits from support workers can slow deterioration of health and reduce the need for medical intervention.

Effective reablement services can also help to prevent readmission to hospital and promote independence.

NHF head of communities Kevin Williamson said: “Integrating good and adapted housing with health services can dramatically improve the health and wellbeing of older and vulnerable people and prevent them from needing more care. It can bring independence to those with physical disabilities, dignity to older people and provide a safe and secure environment for people with mental health illnesses.

“We want the Government to set out clear proposals on the funding of social care reform, and to include explicit guidance on integrating housing and healthcare in the draft Care and Support Bill.

“But for housing associations to develop the right type of homes for older and vulnerable people, they also need places where they can build. The Department of Health can help by encouraging the NHS to consider specialised housing when distributing their surplus land.”

Cllr David Rogers, chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “We recognise that we must integrate the housing and social care agendas at national and local level to ensure that we can deliver housing that meets the diverse needs of vulnerable and ageing members of the population.

“In a period of economic austerity, we believe addressing the housing needs of vulnerable people can substantially reduce demand for, and the cost of, health and social care and enhance quality of life.

“What is needed is a change of ethos, a shift of emphasis from providing residential care towards prolonging independence through better public health, leisure and transport schemes, more adaptable housing, new technologies and neighbourhood projects.”

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