Jeremy Porteus, Chief Executive of the Housing Learning and Improvement Network (LIN) shared his thoughts on integration within the sector. Jeremy highlights the importance of ensuring that the views of those working on the frontline and the people they support are acted upon, as he shares a ‘four-pronged approach to integration’.
- Integrating housing with health and care
While the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee report referred to the significant funding deficit in social care, it also made several strategic and technical recommendations in relation to housing, crucially capturing how housing should part of the foundations of integrated care. This is an important start. Beyond this, consideration must be given to the practical steps that will guarantee meaningful ‘horizontal’ integration. Instead of ‘vertical’ integration within health and care systems, housing needs to be represented in the new integrated care systems and local awareness of housing, health, and social care needs to be improved.
- Get Smarter with tech-integration
The government’s proposal, as outlined in its White Paper People at the Heart of Care, spans many aspects of adult social care, including housing, technology, data, workforce and unpaid carers. The pandemic has shown us how technology played a crucial role in enabling formal and informal care and support for older and disable people. From services backed up by tele-care and tele-medicine to Facebook and WhatsApp group messaging. However, this is often in tech silos and rarely interoperable, one of the 10 foundational principles of TAPPI (Technology for our Ageing Population: Panel for Innovation).
Funded by The Dunhill Medical Trust, and in partnership with the TSA, TAPPI seeks to address the opportunity that technology has to enhance the lives of our ageing population and the barriers that prevent its adoption by integrating the application of technology in housing and care for older people. Six demonstrator sites in England, Scotland and Wales has been chosen to create new, scalable housing service models using technology-enabled care which support personalisation.
- Better Health and wellbeing
The third element to integration must demonstrate improved health and wellbeing outcomes. Housing plays a role in health and wellbeing and therefore creates a need for health and social care support. We know that suitable housing improves wellbeing and quality of life for people, reducing loneliness. Well-designed housing and related support services can enhance many aspects of life beyond physical health and mobility. As people age, they are at greater risk of social exclusion, loneliness and isolation, and mental health problems such as depression. It is therefore vitally important that we take measure that mean we can lead healthy lives in healthier homes.
- ‘Care ready’ housing design
Design also has an opportunity to respond to these types of need in older people. Building on the sister HAPPI principles, we need to better integrate technology within our new and existing housing stock. From specialist housing such as extra care housing to more accessible ordinary homes, tech-enablement ensures that they can be ‘care ready’ to accommodate an ageing population, offering an attractive alternative to the family home, and be able to adapt over time to meet changing needs.
So, in my view, the design of new homes and the retrofitting of existing homes can enable people to keep independent and stay in the same home. From smart meters to improve energy efficiency and reduce fuel poverty to sensor technology that can control lighting or thermal comfort, good design and the utilisation of technology can maintain health and wellbeing and help people adapt to changes that may be due to ageing in their home and address increasing heath and care related factors in later life.
The four-pronged approach to integration ensures that the views of those working on the frontline and the people they support can be meaningfully acted upon, improving both planning and service delivery, and crucially deliver better at home care and support outcomes.
Jeremy Porteus is the CEO of the Housing Learning and Improvement Network. Jeremy works with policy-makers, commissioners and providers of housing, health and social care nationally to improve housing with care choices for older people.