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    Housing Proactive Plus: A Case Study in Value Generation for Supported Housing

    We take the view that Value Generation principles should apply to the administration of public money, including the funding and commissioning of supported housing. Similarly, it should apply to products and services used in supported housing.

    Support Solutions has long advocated Housing Proactive as a housing management system for supported housing because it conforms to Value Generation principles as this brief video shows.

    Housing Proactive is a housing management system that enables:

    • Increased daily communication and contact with tenants
    • A preventative service enabling the identification of needs and issues with tenants much earlier
    • Increased efficiency through the ability to focus staff time where it matters most
    • Detailed housing management analytics and reports, which can now include real time data on temperature and humidity

    Housing Proactive has always been routinely fundable through Housing Benefit so is effectively free where tenants are Housing Benefit/Universal Credit eligible. There are no setup, equipment or servicing costs. It can be used in any type of supported housing, as we define it, including Tenancy Sustainment. How many LAs and housing providers struggle to meet the additional needs of tenants in dispersed accommodation, such as ‘category 1 and 1.5′ sheltered accommodation, for example?

    As a service, it evolves with the environment in which supported housing is provided. The standard Housing Proactive service is now also available in an upgraded form, Housing Proactive Plus, through the inclusion of an environmental sensor measuring:

    • Temperature
    • Humidity

    This is very significant for landlords as they need to comply with the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018. Housing Proactive Plus generates value in many specific operational ways as the video shows, but it also enhances a landlord’s ability to fulfil their duty of care to tenants with additional needs, protect their properties, act preventatively for both people and buildings and comply with new housing legislation. And all within the funding scope of Housing Benefit/Universal Credit.

    Temperature

    As temperature falls in a home, blood pressure goes up – putting people at greater risk of stroke, heart attack or other cardiovascular problems. Furthermore, as temperature falls susceptibility to influenza, colds and other viral infections increases.

    Housing providers may have a duty of care to ensure temperature ranges are appropriate, particularly in sheltered and supported housing where it is understood that tenants have higher needs and greater health challenges. Housing Proactive Plus monitors temperature so you know how hot or cold a tenant’s property is in real time.

    Routinely low temperatures in a property may be a consequence of fuel poverty, it may be a predictor of illness; it’s certainly information that a landlord should act on.

    Furthermore, excessively high temperatures in a property can be an indicator that someone is unwell (as they have turned their heating up in response), or might be an indicator that the tenant is at higher risk of energy related arrears.

    The point is that the landlord will be able to see these data and respond accordingly.

    https://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/2018/aug/cool-indoor-temperatures-linked-high-blood-pressure

    https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/jan/20/older-person-dying-winter-fuel-poverty

    https://www.ageuk.org.uk/latest-press/archive/over-3-million-older-people-are-concerned-about-staying-warm-in-their-own-home-this-winter/

    A more depth document can be found here:

    https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/776497/Min_temp_threshold_for_homes_in_winter.pdf

    “The evidence from the small number of epidemiological studies identified suggests an association between raised blood pressure with exposure to indoor temperatures of around 18°C or colder in the general adult population. Small laboratory studies support the findings that exposure to cold temperatures increases blood pressure and risk of blood clotting in healthy people who are sedentary and wearing minimal clothing, with one study suggesting these effects start at 18°C (+/-0.5°C). Findings on the association between body mass index and health effects of indoor temperature are conflicting. These findings are also likely to be applicable to older people. When the effects of cold in older people were compared with those in younger people, the studies showed in general that the changes in outcomes such as blood pressure, clotting factors, cholesterol and in core and skin temperature were more profound, with slower recovery, in older people. Several studies also demonstrated reduced thermoregulatory control and thermal perception/discrimination with ageing.”

    Humidity

    Optimal levels of humidity in a home are 40-60%. There are a number of quite serious health issues related to living in homes with excess moisture. A relative humidity of 60 per cent or above provides optimum conditions for micro-organisms and airborne allergens, such as dust mites or mould spores to thrive. Black mould in particular is highly toxic and can cause respiratory infections.

    Our homes also suffer if humidity is too high. Excess moisture will rot wood, corrode electronics and appliances, spoil instruments or books, cause food to go stale, and trigger the proliferation of mould and mildew, which can damage wallpaper and soft furnishings, and even compromise the structural integrity of a building.

    Maintaining a relatively constant humidity level indoors, between 40 per cent and 50 per cent, can bring great benefits.

    Below this, and influenza and other air-borne viruses can thrive – and are more easily transmissible, above this – mould, and other bacteria begin to thrive which can cause significant respiratory and allergic issues, impair the immune system, increase illness and begin to physically damage properties. Wood also rots faster at these higher humidity levels.

    Again, there is a clear case that housing providers who are not assessing or managing these risks in their properties may be in breach of their duties towards tenants, potentially culpable for illnesses, and also allowing expensive damage to their own properties.

    Why low humidity is bad for health
    https://modbs.co.uk/news/fullstory.php/aid/17055/The_science_behind__a_healthy_humidity.html

    Acceptance from NHS that high levels of humidity are bad for health
    https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/lifestyle/can-damp-and-mould-affect-my-health/

    Much larger studies with more detail:
    http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/43325/E92645.pdf

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1474709/pdf/envhper00436-0331.pdf

    Summary

    Remember that Value Generation is about:

    • Outcomes for people
    • Cost-benefit
    • Wider social benefit

    Housing Proactive Plus achieves all of these outcomes in multiple ways, as the above case study shows. It does so at no cost to landlords and tenants, assuming Housing Benefit/Universal Credit/Pension Credit eligibility. Even where people are not HB/UC eligible, the benefits of Housing Proactive Plus still outweigh the small weekly cost.

    In addition to the qualitative outcomes for people and the properties they live in, there are also quantitative outcomes in reduced public expenditure, staff focus and efficiency, improved tangible Intensive Housing Management data, lower costs within supported housing, particularly Intermediate Supported Housing (including sheltered) and Tenancy Sustainment (including category 1 and 1.5).

    November 13, 2019 by Michael Patterson Categories: Issue 12

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