|Background:Government policy documents and reports, including the Chief Medical Officer report of 2009 and the recent Public Health White Paper, recognise the tangible impact of cold housing and fuel poverty on people’s health and well-being. With more than a fifth of households in Islington living in fuel poverty and a high level of long-term illness, many people are at risk. We are committed to tackling fuel poverty in the borough and to reducing the impact of both cold and hot weather on the health of the most vulnerable. The Islington Council/NHS Islington funded Seasonal Health Interventions Network (SHINE) scheme aims to tackle cold and damp homes and target vulnerable residents for seasonal health interventions.
|Aims and objectives:We recognise that there are a number of contributors to excess seasonal mortality and morbidity. SHINE aims to tackle not only fuel poverty but other physiological, social and environmental factors. Those considered especially vulnerable are targeted, i.e. people aged over 75, those with respiratory or cardiovascular diseases, children under 5 in low income families, those with dementia or severe mental illness, those with autoimmune disease and those with haemoglobinopathies (thalassaemia, sickle cell disease).
|Approach:SHINE takes a holistic ‘one stop shop’ approach to seasonal health, with one referral leading to an assessment for almost 30 difference interventions, including energy efficiency improvements, benefit checks, falls assessments, fire safety checks, medicines use reviews, enablement and befriending services, telecare etc. For a full list of interventions, please see the SHINE leaflet. Referrals are received from both statutory and volunteer sector services, including housing officers, social services and local older people’s organisations, with self-referrals received through the Energy Advice Team within the council. SHINE is open to all residents in Islington, regardless of housing tenure.
|Challenges:One of the key challenges is achieving cross-working between departments and external agencies involved in SHINE. This required a great deal of sustained effort to achieve but has been made slightly easier by a close working relationship with our local Public Health Team. Many departments were concerned that SHINE may have been ‘stepping on their toes’, but it has in many cases enhanced their work and led to cross-referrals. We feel this holistic approach is vital in gaining maximum benefit thus worth the extra effort in development.
|Successes:In 2011/12 SHINE received 1,249 referrals, leading to 6,112 interventions. This is over double our target for the year. Since the start of the project we have assisted almost 1,700 households. We have set a target for 1,500 referrals and 7,000 interventions this year although we obviously hope to exceed this. We have encountered many vulnerable residents that have ‘slipped through the net’ with existing services and have been able to assist them in achieving a safer, warmer and healthier home.
|Name: John Kolm-Murray|
|Job title: Seasonal Health & Affordable Warmth Co-ordinator|
|Country: United Kingdom|