Leicestershire Warm Homes, Healthy Homes Service

Implementing the NICE Guidance on excess winter deaths and illness and the health risks associated with cold homes

The Leicestershire Warm Homes, Healthy Homes service was commissioned by the Leicestershire County Council Public Health team in order to implement many of the recommendations included in the NICE Guidance on tackling excess winter deaths and illness and the health risks associated with cold homes. The service is co-delivered by the Papworth Trust and NEA and provides Leicestershire householders living in cold homes with a single point of contact via a telephone helpline. Those staffing the helpline are trained in the provision of basic energy advice and are able to support callers to access appropriate assistance which is tailored to the individual needs of the householder. For more complex circumstances, or for householders who are particularly vulnerable, the service is able to offer a home visit. The service also works very closely with the Leicestershire First Contact scheme as well as a range of other service providers such as Citizens’ Advice Bureaux and handyperson schemes.

Warm Homes, Healthy Homes is particularly targeted at householders who are at risk of ill health from living in a cold home. In order to identify such householders, the service delivers awareness sessions for front line staff working in health and social care settings and in the voluntary sector, particularly those who make home visits. By delivering these sessions, the service ensures that health and social care practitioners, as well as housing professionals and voluntary sector workers, are in a better position to provide assistance to those whose homes may be too cold for their health and wellbeing. In addition to the provision of awareness sessions for front line staff, the Warm Homes, Healthy Homes service also offers sessions for community groups of potential beneficiaries of the service, thereby raising awareness of the public about how to keep warm at home.

The range of assistance provided by the Warm Homes, Healthy Homes service includes support with applying for the Warm Home Discount, registering on the Priority Services Register, advice and support with switching to a better tariff and assistance with applying for debt relief and funding for energy efficiency home improvements. In addition to the nationally available funding sources for this type of work, Leicestershire County Council have also been successful in becoming one of several ‘Health & Innovation Programme’ projects funded by NEA. This places significant amounts of funding at the disposal of the service to be spent directly on improving the energy performance of the homes of those who are at risk of ill health as a result of living in a cold home. This funding has a huge impact on the level of assistance the Warm Homes, Healthy Homes service is able to provide to vulnerable Leicestershire householders.

A Health Needs Assessment was carried out by NEA during the first year of delivery of the Warm Homes, Healthy Homes service. This explored the incidence of cold-related ill-health, the extent to which households may be considered at risk of fuel poverty and the relationship between the two. The findings of this Health Needs Assessment were used to help target provision during the second year of the service.

This highly successful service is an example of how the NICE Guidance can drive good practice in this field and how the impact of such services has been significantly broadened by the injection of capital funding for energy improvements made possible by the NEA Health & Innovation Programme.

For more information on this project please contact Nicky Swetnam.

Published on 06-07-2016
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