PITCH - Preventing Illness by Tackling Cold Homes

Creating a system for the health service to refer households struggling to heat their homes

Project duration: March 2015 to February 2016

CSE received funding from Bristol Green Capital to enable the implementation in Bristol of the new guideline on cold homes adopted by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

Published in March 2015, the guideline highlights the significant and detrimental impacts of cold homes on physical and mental health and calls for a new strategic approach at local level from the health sector. (The guideline was drawn up by NICE's Public Health Advisory Committee on which CSE’s Chief Executive, Simon Roberts, was a topic expert.)

Our project – called PITCH (Preventing Illness by Tackling Cold Homes) – aimed to create a national exemplar for delivering the recommendations of this important new guideline. “The new guidance provides a great opportunity for Bristol deliver warmer healthier homes for Bristol’s most vulnerable people while reducing the burden on the local health service of preventable cold-related ill-health” said Phillip Morris, a Senior Development Manager at CSE and project manager of PITCH.

You can download a summary report published in June 2016, and read our news stories on this report, the new quality standards, the guideline release, and our project to implement it. 

To achieve our aim, we sought to make all relevant departments of the health service in Bristol aware of the new guidance and to support the health service's efforts to integrate the guidance within its existing system. And we worked with support organisations across the city to establish an ‘Action for Patients in Cold Homes’ referral service – a single point of contact for the health service to refer patients who need support in securing affordable warmth. This brought together health and social care professionals, advice and support agencies, voluntary and community groups, as well as the providers of insulation and heating schemes.

Click here for more information on our referral app.

Click here to read about the pilot campaign in Bristol pharmacies to reach people at risk of cold-related illness.

Details are available on the a summary report

In brief, though, an evaluation of PITCH shows that interventions to tackle cold homes can make a big difference to people’s lives and that senior health service staff recognise that such interventions are likely to have an impact on health outcomes, and, a positive outcome on health service budgets. As a result, they acknowledge that the health service has a role to play in finding ways to secure cold homes support for those patients that would benefit.

However, despite this, and despite the publication of the NICE guidance, we are not yet at a point where tackling cold homes is a health service priority (or even an objective to serve other priorities, such as reducing winter pressures) or features as a meaningful component of patient healthcare in Bristol.

In September 2015 we held a Health and Cold Homes conference in partnership with Public Health England. Close to 100 people gathered in Bristol for a day to discuss both national guidance and local implementation. Read about the event and download the presentations here.

Relevant downloads and links:

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