Housing associations ‘untapped resource’ in health and social care delivery

One of Scotland’s leading housing associations outlines the importance of going beyond traditional methods of engagement.

social care

Housing is an untapped resource in terms of helping health and social care boards engage better with older people, delivering more effective services as a result, a report has said.

The report has one of Scotland’s leading housing associations outlining the importance of going beyond traditional methods of engagement to focus on the importance of understanding the emotional needs of people and the networks that exist within communities.

As reported by 24housing, this year’s SFHA conference heard that integrated health and housing was the ‘only hope’ for those in need in Scotland.

Hanover Scotland publishes Connecting Communities after completing an action research project to understand how the organisation, staff, and residents can work with local communities to help people live the way they want.

It comes just a few weeks after a report by Audit Scotland highlighted that: “More work needs to be done to engage with local communities when making changes to health and social care services.”

Hanover believes the methodology and findings of its own research could provide a template for use in health and social care and wants to see housing organisations more closely involved in the process in future.

“We do not pretend to have all the answers, but it seems clear to me that were housing organisations included more closely in the integration of health and social care in the future, we could use this kind of model to improve engagement with local communities and deliver better, more effective services across the country,” said Hanover Scotland chief executive Helen Murdoch.

“What our detailed discussions with our residents have given us is a deep understanding of what kind of service they want from us and how we can go about doing that – as a result, this research is going to shape Hanover’s services for years to come.”

As part of the research, a group of Hanover staff were trained to use a relationship-centred approach as developed by Professor Mike Nolan at the University of Sheffield.

This describes the need for a sense of security, a sense of continuity, a sense of belonging, a sense of purpose, a sense of fulfilment, and a sense of significance.

Using these principles, the Hanover research team, led by Murdoch, was able to gain an insight in to the networks and connections that exist in local communities and what prompts positive emotional responses from people.

Relationships formed and the information gathered will be used to shape Hanover’s future work and demonstrates how housing organisations could be a gateway for health and social care bodies to improve their own engagement and deliver better outcomes.

The four conclusions of Hanover’s report were:

  • The home is fundamental to the wellbeing of people and the sustainability of communities
  • Housing is key to all efforts to integrate and improve health and wellbeing
  • Engagement with older people when shaping services must improve and consider the emotional motivations and needs of individuals
  • Housing organisations are an untapped resource – without them it will be more difficult for IJBs to achieve better health and social care outcomes as outlined by Audit Scotland
  • It is essential that housing organisations are offered the opportunity to be fully included in the ongoing integration of health and social care

In June, Housing Scotland 2019 heard the future for Scottish social housing policy lay in Salutogenesis – the highlighting of factors which create and support physical and mental health.

During a session on the sector in 2040, conference heard integrated health and housing was now the “only hope” for assisting those in need across Scotland.

Ruth Glassborow, of Healthcare Improvement Scotland, told conference that any new initiative to integrate health and housing should start from a “deep understanding” of people and their assets.

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