A new Healthy Homes scheme has been launched in Plymouth to help up to 100 of the city’s most vulnerable residents.
The project is a partnership between Plymouth Energy Community (PEC), Livewell South West and Plymouth City Council. PEC has been awarded £334,000 from the British Gas Energy Trust to deliver the scheme, which could provide boilers and other home improvements for people with respiratory and heart problems after submitting a bid.
The project will fund and establish a health referral service in Plymouth using Livewell South West’s Robin Community Assessment Hub, to provide referrals, and two case workers. As well as better health for the people who benefit, based on research it is estimated that the scheme could reduce admissions to accident and emergency, less GP attendances and less pressure on the local health system and finances.
Alistair Macpherson, Chief Executive of PEC, a local Community Benefit Society, said: “We are pleased to have been successful in our bid for this funding. The referrals will be patients and service users who are suffering from medical conditions which can be made worse by living in cold or damp homes, such as respiratory problems and cardiovascular disease. The case workers are employed by us and will provide advice and, where necessary and appropriate, ensure they have installations in their homes which address these issues, such as better heating and installation.
“PEC is committed to helping people in the city access more energy efficient, well insulated, ventilated and warmer homes and saving people money on their energy bills, and this new scheme will also support our aims.”
Councillor Chris Penberthy, Cabinet Member for Cooperatives and Housing for Plymouth City Council, said: “We are well aware that people’s living conditions can have a significant impact on their health and wellbeing so we welcome this initiative that aims to improve this. As a Council we are working hard with local landlords and other partners to improve the quality of housing including the Plan for Private Rented Housing and working with partners such as PEC, to give people a better home.
“This scheme will assist up to 100 vulnerable people on low incomes, save people an average of £200 per energy bill, and see the installation of up to 50 central heating systems and 75 ventilation systems.”
Steve Waite, Chief Executive of Livewell South West said: “The provision of a home that is warm, free from damp and condensation will prevent many people from becoming unwell, particularly with respiratory conditions. We welcome this important initiative, which will improve the standard of accommodation for many individuals and families across the city.”
Councillor Ian Tuffin, Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care for Plymouth City Council, said: “Although this project is a pilot, the data will be analysed by the Council’s Public Health department and it is hoped that the scheme can potentially be continued and expanded, potentially from Plymouth’s ‘One System, One Budget’ joint health and social care commissioning fund.”
The savings the scheme makes to the NHS from reducing admissions and GP visits will be used as evidence to the New Devon Clinical Commissioning Group to widen the health referral network.