Biggest shake-up for a generation

14 November 2013

Trevor Hampton, Director for Local Government , Northgate Public Services

The housing and health sectors have have turned their attention to ensuring they are making the most of the increasingly large amounts of data that is captured at various interaction points between citizens and public sector services.

Although, perhaps at first health and housing may not make obvious bed-fellows, there is increasing evidence to suggest that sharing and integrating data from housing providers and health bodies could help significantly in improving public health and social care –perhaps one of the greatest challenges faced by the government today.

With the changes brought in by the Health and Social Care Act, such as the introduction of Health and Wellbeing Boards, there is clearly an increasing desire for a more coordinated approach to healthcare and care improvement, an approach which Northgate believe should be fully exploited. Social Housing Registered Providers service a key part of the community that often have high health and social care needs and therefore there is scope for housing providers to play a large part in this.

Northgate Public Services has already led several specific pieces of research to explore where better integration of cross-sector data could improve services and enable early interventions, with revealing results. For example we undertook analysis comparing housing association data with census data to show how linking health and housing data can help to prioritise campaigns against fuel poverty and promote ‘affordable warmth’ to prevent weather related illness. The data also clearly highlighted the opportunity that housing and its services has to provide a platform for early interventions thus preventing the needs for healthcare further down the line.

We believe it is also possible to reduce hospital admissions for some conditions through better cross sector data analysis, for example we recently undertook a ‘hot-spot’ analysis to show patterns of respiratory admissions across social housing areas. Including housing data in the analysis allowed us to see for the first time how these hotspots could improve targeting campaigns to reach specific groups that could benefit from intervention strategies to reduce hospital admission and long term dependent care.

Our analysis of housing and hospital data also identified dental admissions as the number one admission type for under 18’s for the data set we looked at, suggesting that oral health is a high risk area for children living in social housing. Findings like this can play a key part in helping health leaders design targeted public health campaigns and deciding where interventions such as screen programmes should be focussed.

The issue of social isolation amongst the over 50’s is another area where housing, health and social care overlap and where there is scope for better joined up working and analysis of measurements that are already under way to reduce social isolation, to improve independent living and reduce high social care costs for dependent care through actions such as the provision of assertive technologies and community social activities.

From a housing perspective the organisations that we have been involved with and in particular Places for People , see the ability to extend their data as key to understanding their customers more and utilising this to drive current and future services and support the overall wellbeing agenda within their neighbourhoods.

Northgate Public Services is committed to making a significant contribution to improving the provision of social housing in the UK and already supports over 35% of the UK social housing stock with over 100 providers.

Of course we work with bodies across the public sector, including nearly every council and every health trust and we have extensive experience working with data from each of these sectors. This makes us ideally placed to play a coordinating role in helping to integrate health, social care and housing data and help providers to enhance their services as a result. We strongly believe in the power of information to improve the lives of citizens and look forward to working with partners to make this a reality.