Accommodating health in housing

Appearing in 24housing’s May edition, HACT’s Andrew van Doorn offers insight into the delivery of healthcare within the sector.

Mental Health in Housing

How does the NHS long-term plan affect housing?

The long-term plan signals a shift in healthcare delivery, with a stronger emphasis on integrated community and place-based approaches to healthcare.

It describes a “new service model for the 21st century”, which will be more joined-up, more proactive, and encourages people to take more control of how they manage their physical and mental wellbeing.

Mental health is recognised as a major area for investment and improvement.

The foundation for NHS planning will be through Primary Care Networks, and social housing providers have a huge role to play in them. How housing strengthens its work around mental wellbeing will be key to their success.

How can housing get more involved in health?

Housing can get involved with health through working with GPs, through social prescribing, and providing access to community-based programmes that support mental wellbeing.

It can improve the mental health of tenants and staff, building in-house expertise to identify those who need help.

It can integrate community-based supported housing for those with severe mental ill health into multi-disciplinary teams.

Finally, housing needs new relationships, and new, honest conversations about quality, safety, and money with healthcare providers – not just commissioners.

How can the social value calculator be used in mental health?

The UK Social Value Bank (UKSVB) is built on Wellbeing Valuation.

To demonstrate social value, we look at the improvements in wellbeing created through the outcomes we help deliver.

The UKSVB includes values around mental health, such as relief from depression and anxiety (worth £36,766) or feeling more confident (worth £13,080).

Sometimes, however, these outcomes are hard to achieve, so we also launched a set of values focused on improvements in mental wellbeing.

These are based on the Warwick Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (WMWBS), which is easy to use and based on smaller changes in mental wellbeing.

Why is it important for housing to tackle mental health?

Housing is a cornerstone of all our lives.

The impact of poor housing on mental health is well evidenced.

People with mental health conditions are one-and-a-half times more likely to live in rented housing, twice as likely to be unhappy with their housing and four times as likely to say that it makes their health worse.

Mental ill-health is frequently cited as a reason for tenancy breakdown the connection between housing and mental health has been proved time and time again.

Getting housing right and providing a safe place for recovery is critical.

Mental health is everyone’s business in housing, and we all have a role to play, however large or small.