Vulnerable people living in the Great Yarmouth area are now able to get help to improve safety in their homes as part of a pioneering new initiative designed to reduce demand on the NHS and social care while also saving money.
Healthy Homes Assistance gives people the chance to boost their health and wellbeing by having improvements made to their homes, such as the installation of grab rails, level access showers and ramps for people who use wheelchairs.
The initiative is a partnership between NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group, Great Yarmouth Borough Council and Norfolk County Council, and has been funded by the government’s Better Care Fund. It aims to:
Reduce unnecessary hospital admissions and re-admissions by reducing risks around the home (for example, by preventing falls or making a property more dementia-friendly)
Reduce the number of hospital bed days which are lost because of delayed discharges by making sure the right equipment is in place to help people get home sooner
The scheme has already received positive feedback from people who have benefitted since its launch late last year. Analysis has also shown that the cost of installing a £450 handrail at one patient’s home after they were admitted to hospital following a fall could potentially save the NHS nearly £12,000, which would be spent on treatment and rehabilitation if the man fell again.
Fran O’Driscoll, director of partnership and delivery with the CCG, said: “We are delighted to be working with our partners at the borough council to deliver this fantastic project, which is helping more people to stay at home and retain their independence while reducing pressure on health and social care.
“Healthy Homes Assistance focuses on finding innovative and cost-effective ways to help improve safety in vulnerable people’s homes, in turn reducing potentially significant costs if that person was to fall, for example, and need long-term medical care as the result.”
Cllr Penny Carpenter, chair of the housing and neighbourhoods committee at Great Yarmouth Borough Council, said: “This new partnership project supports one of the council’s priorities, which is to build stronger, more resilient communities, help improve people’s quality of life, and help existing services to work better together to support vulnerable people.
“If an older person can avoid unnecessary injury and hospitalisation through the installation of an aid like a grab rail, this not only reduces demand on the NHS and other services but more importantly supports that person’s health, wellbeing and sense of independence.”
James Bullion, executive director for Norfolk County Council adult social services, said: “This is an example of how partners can work together across health, social care and housing to use funding to put in place services that support and enable people to be independent in their own home.”
People can be referred to the team by a medical professional. Work costing more than £1,000 will be subject to a means test.
An additional scheme, called “I’m going home”, is also available to help early discharge or prevent those who have gone to A&E from being admitted to a ward. It sees people given a Yare Care alarm so that they can call for help quickly if they fall or become unwell, as well as a key safe so that they can securely store a spare key outside their home so that others can gain access in an emergency.
Notes: The Better Care Fund (BCF) is a programme spanning the NHS and local government which was created to improve the lives of some of society’s most vulnerable people.