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What are the links between health and housing?


Overview

Housing makes a fundamental difference to mental and physical health and wellbeing, which impacts both the health and care systems. In light of increasing demand for both services, is there an opportunity of the alignment of these services? Anna Benbow, from Mitie Property Services and Caris Henry, from Mitie’s domiciliary homecare business, MiHomecare, gave practical examples of this, including a handyman service supporting older people in the home and safety advice for residents.

Background

Anna Benbow, Head of Asset Management, said that the service needs to consider not only the home, but the person living in the home as well as the community that home is in - as all of these can have an impact on a person’s health and wellbeing.  This can be obvious things such as a damp home impacting on respiratory systems, or the type of construction making a home expensive to heat but it is the wider well being agenda such as isolation and loneliness; to low levels of activity to ASB that can have a negative impact on a person’s health.

As a sector, we have a responsibility to recognise this and support efforts to combat these issues.  This can be done through tailored community engagement when delivering large scale investment works; to simpler methods including drop in sessions for an elderly community, or Health MOTs to support improving lifestyles.

We recently commissioned a survey with Inside Housing to explore the link between health and housing and delve into ways in which social landlords and repairs contractors can work together across both service areas to deliver a better, more personalised service to tenants.

The survey collected 174 responses from a range of stakeholders including: housing associations, local authorities and management organisations. The purpose of the survey was to explore the sector’s attitude towards health and housing, as well as learn more about some of the work and initiatives social landlords are undertaking in this area.

Results

The survey results were very telling, with the majority of respondents (58%) agreeing that resident health and wellbeing is an integral part of property management.

Furthermore, 66% said that the R&M provider had a role to play in delivering health and wellbeing programmes, with 8% saying that the R&M provider should be fully responsible for delivering these programmes.

Fundamentally, the survey called for increasing collaboration between contractors and social landlords towards a more integrated service. There is a clear and well-documented link between health and housing. But what’s the next step? Further integration is inevitable. It takes knowledge and understanding of both sectors to come up with tailored solutions for residents.