Blog by Sue Adams, CEO of Care & Repair England

If I had £1 for every time I’ve heard the phrase ‘integration of health and care’ over the decades, I would be able to fund many handyperson services around the country. Add in extra cash for all the times so many of us have had to say, ‘integration of housing, health and care’ and we can fund the caseworkers too.

So, it’s inspiring to find out about real-world integration efforts that are genuinely embedding housing help into hospital systems. It isn’t perfect – what is – and the pandemic has certainly added to the many challenges faced by everyone in the health, care and voluntary sectors, but it does work.

What am I talking about?

Manchester Care & Repair’s jointly commissioned ‘Home from Hospital’ service, as described in our latest ‘Integration in Action’‘ brochure. An impressive fact about this service is the scale of the operation – over 20,000 older patients reached by phone after they’ve been discharged from hospital, with more than 12,000 jobs done in their homes, ranging from handyperson minor works to replacement boilers and larger repairs, as well as increasing people’s incomes by over £2 million every year.

What really leaps out for me are the impacts on the lives of individuals based on the two stories told about Manchester Care & Repair service users in the brochure - and there were many more inspiring tales of transforming lives to choose from when we came to write up the profile of the Manchester Care & Repair service.

However, a word of caution. One of the reasons that this integration of housing help into hospital discharge systems works is because Manchester Care & Repair has a great toolbox of housing solutions. When they come across someone without savings and little income, whose health is being made worse by the disrepair of their home e.g., broken down heating boiler so no heating or hot water, hole in the roof where the rain comes in (as the song goes) they have access to a brilliant fast track grant so they can turn around the repair in days, or call on a range of loan products for larger works.

This is down to the far-sighted housing policy of Manchester City Council, which (again that word) really is integrated with health, helping disadvantaged residents by tackling poor or unsuitable housing, despite funding constraints.

Finally, possibly uniquely, the range of services offered by Manchester Care & Repair is jointly commissioned by Manchester CCG and Manchester City Council.

This pioneering health and housing integration is taking place in an area that desperately needs it, as nearly 45% of neighbourhoods within Manchester City are among the 10% most deprived areas in England.

So let us hope that more local areas will take up the real integration challenge, that of embedding effective housing interventions into health and care systems so that more older people get the housing help they need to live healthy, safe and independent lives in their own homes for longer.