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

A new report has concluded that housing is an untapped resource which could help Health and Social Care Boards engage better with older people, delivering more effective services as a result.

In the report published today, one of Scotland’s leading housing associations outlines the importance of going beyond traditional methods of engagement.  Instead, it highlights the importance of understanding the emotional needs of people and the networks which exist within communities.  This information helps achieve better outcomes such as increasing happiness and reducing loneliness and isolation.

Hanover Scotland has published the report, “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 lives 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.”[i]

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 the future.

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 fulfillment and; a sense of significance.

Using these principles, the Hanover research team, led by the Chief Executive, 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.

The relationships that have been 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 to better understand the networks and support which exists within communities.
  • Housing organisations are an untapped resource without which 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 be offered the opportunity to be fully included in the ongoing integration of health and social care.

Helen Murdoch, Chief Executive of Hanover Scotland, said: “Housing organisations are the gateway through which health and social care bodies can provide outcomes to help people live the lives they want.”

“For 40 years, Hanover Scotland has pioneered progressive models of housing and care that support older people to enjoy full and active lives and I am very proud that our team was able to undertake this research throughout our anniversary year.  It has taken us across Scotland to speak to people and to a global conference where we were invited to share some of our early findings.”

“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.”

“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.”

The full report can be read here

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