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Can Your Home Keep You Healthy?

Jonathan Drake, Service Director, Salix Living shares his thoughts with the IG Housing Hub on how technology can be used in housing to improve people's health.

We are living longer lives because of medical advances, better drugs, healthier lifestyles, and safer workplaces.  But as highlighted in the recent NHS Long Term Plan, the success of the NHS and Social Care system today means while we are all living longer, it is often with chronic multiple illnesses.

In Salford, where I work, 70% of the Salford population live in areas classified as highly deprived or disadvantaged, and the health and wellbeing of the population of the city is well below the national average.  It is projected that in Salford by 2035 the number of people aged 65 and over will be 50,600, and 16,919 of them will have a limiting long-term illness.

Given this trend, it’s time to radically rethink how we respond, at each stage in life, to the way that we support our families and communities in the home.

In its White Paper Industrial Strategy, the Government put technology at the heart of delivery on NHS efficiency to enable earlier diagnosis and reduce the need for costly late stage treatment. Using data and artificial intelligence to transform the prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of chronic illnesses and harnessing the power of innovation to meet the needs of an ageing society are just two of the challenges the Government set out in this paper.

One of the answers to this is the creation of a low cost, tech-based solution to assist people to live at home for as long as possible by creating a person-centred integrated care system in the home.

Closer collaboration with housing is pivotal to the broader aims of the NHS in developing a proactive approach to using technology in the maintenance of health and well-being as well as the sustainability of the NHS.  This is because it will rely on the implementation of structural changes to homes as well as engagement of tenants to expand the range of agency services and add to the richness of this type of intervention.

The result of this collaboration could be:

  • more care will be delivered in a community setting, largely in people's homes
  • a corresponding reduction in unplanned demand for hospital care and expensive packages of social care
  • improved quality of life for users and carers
  • significant increase in the ability of people to manage their own condition