With poor housing now costing NHS Scotland some £135m there was a case for housing associations employing their own GP, Housing Scotland 2019 heard.
The SFHA annual conference in Glasgow this week heard how Scotland could progress the integration of health and housing.
Salutogenesis – the highlighting of factors which create and support physical and mental health – was a possible driver for Scottish social housing policy, delegates were told during a session on the sector in 2040.
To incentivise integration, Matthew Gardiner, chief executive of Trafford Housing Trust currently on secondment as Head of Ideation at L&Q Group, introduced the idea of associations employing the own GPs.
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.
Integrated health and housing was now the “only hope” for assisting those in need across Scotland, said Glassborow.
“By 2040, I hope we’re not talking about integrated health and housing – I hope we have a new word for it,” she said.
Conference questioned how much of home ownership was now linked to covering future care costs.
The concept of a National Housing Investment Fund for Scotland was raised as having the potential to offer return from housing without the need for ownership.
A future for Scotland’s social housing lay in its promotion as a “positive and equal choice” in a mature housing market.
Now on its knees, the present system could be re-framed through the lens of social justice to make forms of tenure equal, said SFHA chief executive Sally Thomas.
She drew a comparison to a £10m adaptations budget currently “free floating” through Scottish government.
Where this budget – and its potential to impact household health – seemingly had no political concept, SFHA was, said Thomas, preparing evidence to press a case for its ownership.
However, this came with the risk of absorption into specific departmental budgets – most probably health – she said.
She added that, in the meantime, talk of the future could focus on the 43% of Scottish children in poverty – 25% of them in absolute poverty.
Though already running initiatives from breakfast clubs to football clubs, the sector needed to do more, she said.