At a time of unprecedented reductions in public expenditure higher standards of evidence are being demanded by commissioners, including demonstrating the cost benefits of even well established services.
A lack of investment in high standard academic research into the housing, health and ageing connections, particularly to the ‘gold standard’ of a randomised control trial, could put practical housing services at risk.
Those at risk include the very services that older people tell us they value so highly – help with home adaptations and practical housing repair services, such as handyperson schemes and home improvement agencies.
Our Catch 22 project is aiming to address this situation.
Click here for the Summary flyer about Catch 22
Connecting Academic Research & Practice
The reason for the name of the project is because increasingly practical housing services (eg adaptations & repairs) find themselves in a ‘Catch 22’ situation;
- they are required to prove the financial gain (especially NHS/ Social Care) of housing intervention to service planners and commissioners based on academic research but
- few academic bodies have/ are undertaking such research, partly because it has not been a priority area for research funding and so
- without such evidence housing services risk being de-commissioned (and hence even harder to gather evidence….).
Care & Repair England’s aim is to forge new partnerships and stimulate fresh research in the health/ housing/ ageing field by bringing together leading researchers and key stakeholders.
It is supporting clusters of researchers & stakeholders to work together on research proposals & projects that have a practical application.
It is also making the case for the need for such evidence to Government Departments, Research Councils and other potential funders and stakeholders.
We have already:
- Created a virtual Research & Practice Network – this is continuously being expanded as fresh contacts are established with academics across the country [email mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to join]
- Brought people together at events and stimulated new partnerships
- Bletchley Day, run along the lines of a sandpit, which forged new partnerships and stimulated fresh research ideas in the field of home adaptations/ housing interventions.
- Falling Through the Gaps: Connecting Research, Policy and Practice in the Fields of Ageing, Falls Prevention and Housing Interventions, organised in partnership with the British Society of Gerontology (BSG) to bring together academics and stakeholders.
- The Right Prescription – event held in Manchester focussing on how interventions in the home can impact on health, especially on use of hospital and NHS services. This is also a joint venture with BSG and MICRA. Click here for presentations.
- Contributed to research working and advisory groups & networks, including Hact, Public Health England, regional Schools of Public Health, NICE, Chartered Institute of Environmental Health and genHOME.
- Worked with the Centre for Ageing Better to shape a forthcoming ‘what works’ evidence review
- Stimulated and supported New Active research clusters including:
- Research proposals (using Random Controlled Trial approach) to quantify benefits of home adaptations – active development underway in range of Universities, including follow on work by University of West of England, plus joint work led by Exeter University involving Queen Mary University of London and Manchester University.
- Housing decision making in later life – research options scoped with Open University
- Bathing adaptations impact – research about to commence (Nottingham University)
- New publications have resulted including:
- Off the Radar: Housing disrepair and health impact in later life – this was a joint project with data analysis by BRE and report production by Care & Repair England (2016)
- Infographic about older people, housing, health and care – utilising above data/ reports.
- The cost benefit to the NHS arising from preventative housing interventions – innovative work led by the Building Research Establishment after the Bletchley Day. Report published May 2016
This is just the start of the process of improving evidence in this field.
Care & Repair England will continue to work with a wide range of academics and stakeholders, facilitate new groups & initiatives, grow the research network and make representations to policy makers, funders and commissioners concerning the importance of new research in this field.
Martin Hodges, Health & Housing Programme Lead (part-time)