Select Committee on Health Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum by Melody Carter, North Bristol NHS Trust (DD 35)

  Unsafe, inaccessible, cold and damp homes have a direct impact on anyone's health but for older and disabled people this is much more of a risk, many older and disabled people living on low incomes cannot tackle their housing problems without help.

  These problems are often first identified when a patient is discharged from hospital. Many elderly people living in Bristol experience poor housing, fuel poverty and home security difficulties which contribute to poor health and undermine both their independence and quality of life.

  Bristol Care and Repair have been tackling people's housing problems for 14 years in Bristol and has witnessed the impact that even a small repair can have on a person's well-being.

  At North Bristol NHS Trust we have worked with Bristol Care and Repair to develop a fast track assessment system for elderly and disabled owner occupiers whose inadequate, unsanitary and unsafe housing conditions would cause a delay in discharge or would render even the best planned discharge arrangements unsafe.

  The Trust has monitored the incidence of delays due to housing difficulties and we are pleased to say that as a result of this excellent service patients rarely experience long delays.

  The interventions made can be as simple as re-hanging a door or moving furniture around to rewiring a property or building an accessible bathroom for a wheelchair user. It is estimated that where the scheme is involved the numbers of bed days saved range from two or three up to 100 or more days.

  North Bristol NHS Trust, in partnership with Bristol Social Services and local Primary Care Groups is developing a whole systems approach to housing and health. Building on work to prevent hospital discharge delays we have developed a training package for health and social care community practitioners to assess clients' homes for safety, security and energy efficiency and then arranged for repairs to be undertaken "on prescription". Through this scheme we hope that those most vulnerable people can have home improvements that might prevent a hospital admission such as a fall, or if admitted to hospital will have a home fit to return to as soon as they are well enough.

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Prepared 29 July 2002