Working with the NHS to ensure discharged patients go home to a warm house

21 January 2019

CSE's Elliot Clark, our Warm and Safe Wiltshire energy advisor, has started a one-day-a-week stint at Swindon's Great Western Hospital. He's working with ward managers, discharge nurses, occupational therapists and social care services to ensure that, following their stay, patients aren't going home to cold houses or to broken or inadequate heating systems that put their health at risk and may mean they end up back in hospital.

"It's a great opportunity to be working alongside NHS staff," said Elliot. "I'm eager to give extra support - to both patients and staff - to reduce the impact of fuel poverty on patient health and wellbeing and hopefully reduce the numbers of readmissions in future.

"So far I've been setting up the service, talking to staff and attending meetings. Soon I will be providing energy advice to patients and plan to get them signed up for the priority services register with Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks, Wessex Water and their energy supplier. For those most critically in need, we're also providing emergency oil-filled radiators."

Cold and damp homes can cause illness and exacerbate existing health conditions such as circulatory problems, diabetes and arthritis, and mental illnesses like depression and anxiety. Respiratory conditions, like asthma, are made worse by the cold or by the damp and mould which is often found in under-heated, poorly ventilated homes. People with certain disabilities, children and the elderly also fall into higher risk categories. 

The health risks associated with cold homes is recognised by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) who published guidance on this which CSE was involved in developing, and which recommends that the health service should engage with efforts to make homes less cold and less damp.

The post is funded by Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks and Wessex Water Health Engagement Project, and runs until the end of march. Warm and Safe Wiltshire is an energy advice project funded by Swindon Borough Council and Wiltshire Council and managed by CSE.

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