Linking up with local health services to prevent illness and cold homes
Sharing data with medical practices to tackle cold homes
Project duration: March 2016 to March 2017
CSE’s Home Energy Team are working in partnership with Wellington Medical Centre, in South Somerset, to provide free energy advice to Wellington residents. The project was instigated by Wellington Medical Centre, following their contact with CSE through the Warmer Improved Somerset Homes (WISH) project.
There are clear links between ill health and living in a cold home – existing medical conditions can be exacerbated by low temperatures and their frequent accompaniments: damp, condensation and mould. The many preventable illnesses that result from under heated homes cost NHS England up to £1.36bn annually, and mean that people in the UK are 23% more likely to die as a result of winter conditions than people living in Sweden (despite the milder British winters).
In March 2015 the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recognised this issue and published guidelines which highlight the significant burden that is placed on health services by the effects of living in cold homes. To address this, the NICE guidance calls for a strategic approach that integrates healthcare with local services dealing with issues such as fuel poverty and debt, energy efficiency, insulation and heating provision.
Researchers at CSE produced a map for Wellington Medical Practice to use which shows the distribution of energy inefficient homes in their practice area. This allows GPs working at the practice to link up patients with their likely living conditions. If they feel that a patient could benefit from interventions surrounding cold homes, they are referred on to CSE.
Once patients have been referred CSE assists with:
- Advice on insulation, including information on funding grants.
- Getting the best from energy suppliers or reducing fuel debt.
- Checking eligibility for the Warm Home Discount and registration on the Priority Services Register.
- Dealing with damp and mould caused by condensation.
- Help with water saving or water debt.
- Understanding central heating controls and using energy efficiently in the home.
Lisa Evans, CSE’s project manager explains the benefits of the project: “Keeping yourself warm and well is so important for maintaining good health, and if peoples' ability to do this is compromised it creates a substantial burden on the health service. Working together with practices like Wellington is a fantastic way to get to the bottom of this problem and help to keep people warm, well and safe."
This project has been funded by Western Power Distribution.