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Failing to integrate housing with health and social care services is ‘recipe for disaster’

Inside Housing.Co.Uk  24 September 2013

Housing has failed to become ‘key player’ in the movement to integrate health and social care, a director at the Chartered Institute of Housing has said.

Domini Gunn, director of health and well-being at the CIH, said yesterday failing to prioritise housing as health and social care services were increasingly joined-up, ‘was at best an oversight and at worse a recipe for disaster’.

She was speaking as the CIH launched its report Delivering housing, health and care outcomes, which encourages the rhetoric on integration of housing and care to be fully realised.

‘Health and care partners are often aware of the importance of a decent home for health and for effective delivery of home care. But for them the issue is the home, not the tenure or landlord. The complexity of strategic housing and planning responsibilities in district councils are not well understood,’ the report said.

‘The plethora of housing providers is confusing and diverse. Health and social care commissioners often lack the resources and time to engage with all housing providers in a local area.’

Ms Gunn said: ‘To not also have housing as a central tenet of that integration seems to be at best an oversight and at worse a recipe for disaster… [housing] is not a key player in the main planning and commissioning or decision-making process.’

She added that although many elderly people lived in homes that were not ‘fit for living’, housing associations who understood the ‘art of the possible’ were able to adapt residences.

But health professionals often put elderly patients in a care home because they lack the time and expertise to liaise with housing professionals, she said.

‘If you think of a typical situation of an 89-year-old woman who is living alone, who falls, who gets admitted to hospital and who is very frail, then if you are a medic, what are your choices? Because you actually haven’t got the time or the knowledge of or the resources to be able to think too much about what the housing solutions might be.

‘If… [health professionals] don’t understand the art of the possible about housing, the fact that things could be done if the referrals were in place and all the agencies were lined up, then they look for a care home place because that is the default posit


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