Hospital staff praise the benefits of partnership working

9 May 2019

CSE's Elliot Clark has come to the end of a one-day-a-week stint at Swindon's Great Western Hospital, working alongside NHS ward managers, discharge nurses, occupational therapists and social care services to ensure that, following their stay, patients going home to cold and damp houses are given help to make those homes better.

Too many people leave hospital and return to homes that are unhealthily damp and cold, with broken or inadequate heating systems. This puts their health at risk and in many cases means they end up back in hospital - an outcome neither they nor the health service wants.

We made a video in which Daniel, one of the nurses in the Intergrated Discharge Service, explains the benefits to the NHS from working in partnership with organisations like CSE.

"It was a valuable opportunity to work alongside NHS staff and to support both patients and staff," said Elliot. "This kind of collaboration can reduce the impact of fuel poverty on patient health and wellbeing and hopefully reduce the numbers of readmissions in future."

"I signed up a significant number of patients to the priority services register of Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks, Wessex Water - the two utilities in the Swindon area - and also to patients' 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 was funded by Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks and Wessex Water Health Engagement Project and was part of Warm and Safe Wiltshire, an energy advice project funded by Swindon Borough Council and Wiltshire Council and managed by CSE.

Elliot spoke about his experience of working alongside NHS staff at a joint Wessex Water and Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks event on 9 May which explored the benefits of partnership working among public-facing bodies like utility companies, the health service, local authorities and organisations like CSE.

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