01 Jul 2021

Housing advice has key role to play in supporting NHS response to COVID-19

The lack of temporary accommodation because of the COVID-19 pandemic is creating increased challenges in discharging people at risk of homelessness, according to new research from the Chartered Institute of Housing Cymru

In a revealing new study, CIH Cymru’s Tyfu Tai Cymru project commissioned Gana Consulting and C.A.R.P Collaborations to take a fresh look at what role housing advice plays when patients are discharged from hospital.

The research included a focus on how COVID-19 had impacted arrangements and sought the views of professionals, patients and carers across Wales.

The report found that:

  • Staff do not tend to follow a clear protocol on hospital discharge, often relying on local conventions
  • The lack of temporary accommodation because of the COVID-19 pandemic is creating increased challenges in discharging people at risk of homelessness or those whose home may be unsuitable following their hospital stay
  • Staff in specialist roles who before the pandemic worked in a hospital setting now rely on non-specialist staff to communicate their advice and guidance
  • The presence of a housing expert in a hospital setting can improve timely advice for professionals and patients
  • Patients who are not formally admitted to hospital do not get information that could keep them well at home
  • Delays to adaptations, the need for ongoing care, and complications whilst in hospital all cause delays to a patient being discharged
  • Approaches that involve a wide range of professionals in discharge planning increase the likelihood that patient needs are considered holistically – although sometimes the involvement of key professionals, like housing staff, can come too late
  • The use of multiple IT systems can make it harder to share up to date information that is accessible to all staff
  • There is evidence that carers needs assessments are not being carried out consistently and that housing is not a regular consideration when these discussions do happen.

The report makes a wide range of recommendations for health boards, the Welsh Government and other stakeholders who support the hospital discharge planning process. These include the need to ensure housing advice is considered as a central part of discharge planning, to involve housing experts at the earliest opportunity when a housing advice need becomes apparent and further consideration be given to how local authorities can be supported to facilitate hospital discharge with limited temporary accommodation in place as a result of the pandemic.


                                              Full report    Appendices  

Catherine May  |  Tyfu Tai Cymru manager

This research shines a light on what can be achieved for people when housing experts are included in a joined-up way and housing advice used as part of the discharge planning process. It shows that discharge planning can vary widely depending on someone’s circumstances – from those who may present at a hospital but not be formally admitted, to those who undergo a procedure that will change their ongoing housing and care needs. Whilst we know a one size fits all approach does not work, there is a case to make sure housing advice is embedded so everyone can have access to it when they come into contact with healthcare services.

Matthew Kennedy  |  policy and public affairs manager, CIH Cymru

Whilst we know that not everyone who is admitted to hospital will need help or support with their housing this report shows that there are too many missed opportunities to identify housing needs that could ultimately help people stay well at home and avoid returning to hospital. Given the need to protect capacity in the NHS is even more important under the conditions of the COVID-19 crisis we’re urging the Welsh Government and health boards to act swiftly on the back of our recommendations to make those sensible links where we know housing advice could have a real impact on helping healthcare professionals in their high-pressure roles, and support better outcomes for patients, carers and families.

Notes for editors

  1. The Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) is the independent voice for housing and the home of professional standards. Our goal is simple – to provide housing professionals with the advice, support and knowledge they need to be brilliant. CIH is a registered charity and not-for-profit organisation. This means that the money we make is put back into the organisation and funds the activities we carry out to support the housing sector. We have a diverse membership of people who work in both the public and private sectors, in 20 countries on five continents across the world. Further information is available at: cih.org
  2. Tyfu Tai Cymru is a 5-year policy research project funded by the Oak Foundation – further information on the project and its work is available here.
  3. For additional comments, interview arrangements or case studies please contact 07534404742 or matthew.kennedy@cih.org