There is a proven link between poor housing and poor health. Alertacall’s Housing Proactive service is an essential housing management system which helps housing providers to maintain a high standard of housing stock. This is achieved by improving repairs performance and increasing communication with residents with higher needs on housing-related matters.
Poor health is a particular problem at this time of year, with the winter weather causing an increase in cold-related illnesses such as flu, cardiovascular disease and other respiratory problems. One major contributor is poor housing. The BRE Trust, a charity that works to support research and education in the built environment, has estimated that poor housing costs the NHS about £2.5 billion a year. In their report ‘The Cost of Cold’, meanwhile, the charity Age UK has calculated the cost of winter illness resulting from inadequately heated properties to be about £1.36 billion per year.
As well as being a health risk, poor housing puts a strain upon NHS finances, resources and staff at their busiest time. Importantly, housing providers have a legal responsibility to provide adequate accommodation as outlined by the Government’s ‘Decent Homes Standard’.
There are various ways in which housing can be considered ‘poor’; perhaps the most prevalent among these is inadequate heating during the winter months. It has been argued that much more can be done to address the problem of poor housing, particularly among individuals in later life and those with higher needs.
In fact, a lot can be said for not simply pushing for improvements to housing, but for the regular monitoring of this housing to ensure that its remains as energy efficient, well-maintained and adequately heated as it should be. Fixing problems with properties is one thing, but enabling residents to easily report new issues when they arise, and assisting residents with higher needs to fully realise a decline in the quality of their properties, is another.
Housing Proactive has a number of features which help housing providers better manage property maintenance issues – here are just five of them:
- Repairs hotline button: All of the devices provided to residents have a repairs hotline button which makes it easy for them to report repairs directly to the maintenance team, ensuring any issues are identified early on and dealt with quickly.
- Daily property checks and calls to our contact centre team: Carrying out daily property checks with residents underpins the Housing Proactive service and gives individuals the opportunity to report any issues as and when they arise. Residents are also able to report repairs to us by calling us using the Customer Services button on their device. For example, for one housing provider on the Housing Proactive service with 2,000 properties, our contact centre team received 160 calls solely relating to repairs over a 3 month period, of which 60% were reporting new repairs.
- Messaging service: Housing providers being are able to send messages to residents as reminder to make regular maintenance checks, e.g. check your boiler, or notify them of any maintenance work due to be undertaken.
- Occupancy tracking: Accessed via an online reporting portal, occupancy tracking from Housing Proactive makes it easy for housing teams to schedule maintenance work, and know when properties have been left vacant for extended periods.
- Environmental sensor device: Due for release later in 2019, these ultra low battery consumption devices require minimal installation, monitor pressure, humidity and temperature, and will further improve property management and potential fuel arrears. Several housing providers report an increase in compensation claims due to suspected damp – our sensors will provide independent evidence to verify and review these claims.
To conclude, there is an undeniable link between poor housing and poor health. Housing providers have a responsibility to provide acceptable accommodation. Statistics show that as well as being a solution to a lot of avoidable illness, particularly among older people and those with higher needs, tackling poor housing would reduce pressures on NHS staff and funding.
Services such as Housing Proactive help improve repairs performance of housing providers and make it easy for housing teams to effectively schedule maintenance work. Improving the overall quality of their housing stock also has health benefits of their residents.
For more information on Housing Proactive and how it can support your organisation in housing-related matters call Benjamin Lambert, Head of Client Relations, on 0808 208 1234 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.