Housing associations relieve pressure on NHS, says new report

// HA News

Housing providers are helping the NHS save money by helping people out of hospital into homes faster with the right care and support, a new National Housing Federation report has found.

With over 30% of their residents living with a disability or aged 60 or over, and given the predicted surge in this demographic, housing associations have stepped in to ensure patients are not stuck in hospital longer than necessary.

This has freed up the NHS to deliver its services to those who need them most and preventhospital re-admissions.

With an increase of 31% between 2013 and 2015, the growing number of patients stranded in hospital has become a critical issue and is costing the NHS – around £820m a year is spent treating older patients who no longer need to be there. Services are stretched and reaching a tipping point.

The report, Home from hospital: How housing services are relieving pressure on the NHS, carried out by Housing LIN, showcases 12 examples of schemes where people get the care and support they need outside of hospital wards. It articulates the housing offer and the diverse housing and health services provided by housing associations and local authorities. These include:

  • temporary homes for people who cannot return to their own home immediately (known as a “step down” service)
  • extra care, and health and wellbeing services
  • home improvements, including safety, sustainability and suitability of homes
  • occupational therapists, telecare solutions and advice on housing options.

But this contribution is small-scale and localised – and the cost-benefits of extending these services would be significant. Housing associations have a track record of providing care and already have the assets to deliver these through supported housing homes for example.

Helen Rowbottom, Policy Officer at the National Housing Federation, said “Delayed transfers of care come with a huge price tag for the NHS and at a high personal cost for patients. But housing associations have been hard at work. As this report shows, their innovative schemes are already helping the NHS make substantial savings and enabling individuals to make a full recovery.

“Housing associations are natural partners and are ready to do more. Helping people out of hospital requires coordinating partners and services in the community. While this can be time-consuming for hospital staff, housing associations can do this effectively as landlords and providers of vital care and support services.

“This is an opportunity we mustn’t miss – there is a strong case for scaling up this work. The sector is ready to partner with NHS commissioners to find the best way of doing this and, in the process, reduce pressure on vital but overstretched NHS resources.”

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