We have had a couple of unprecedented cold snaps just recently – and this can affect the most needy in our region as they struggle to keep warm – especially as they come out of hospital and are at their most vulnerable. However there is help at hand as a project which helps poorer people and families in Suffolk make their homes warmer and cheaper to heat has successfully been awarded funding to support patients leaving hospital.
Warm Homes Healthy People (WHHP) plan to use the £10,000 in funding from National Energy Action’s (NEA) Warm and Safe at Home innovation award to reduce the heating related delayed transfers of care (DTOC) at Ipswich Hospital Trust. This innovative project will ensure no patients are discharged into a cold home, by providing temporary heating and then assisting with a longer term solution which could include repair of, or replacement heating.
WHHP provides support and advice to Suffolk residents who are struggling to stay warm. The service is run from Suffolk Coastal District Council on behalf of all the councils in Suffolk. Patients in our local hospitals waiting to go home are sometimes unable to do so because of inadequate or broken heating.
NEA is the national fuel poverty charity in the UK with aims to ensure that everyone can afford to live in a warm, dry home. In partnership with central and local government, fuel utilities, housing providers, consumer groups and voluntary organisations, NEA undertakes a range of activities to address the causes and treat the symptoms of fuel poverty.
The award of funding follows the successful pilot partnership work carried out last winter to reduce DTOC at Ipswich Hospital speeding up discharge time and allowing people to receive care in their home.
The WHHP team will work closely with the Ipswich hospital’s Discharge Planning Team and Operations Centre to identify patients.
Cllr Steve Gallant, cabinet member for Community Health, said: “This important funding will enable Warm Homes to support patients leave hospital earlier and return to a warm home which has been shown to boost recovery time and help people to regain their independence.
“By working closely with the hospital, the team hope to reach the people who are at most risk and help identify their heating problems before discharge, giving them the best chance of recovery.”
Neill Moloney, managing director of The Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust, said: “This is a great initiative which we really support. Several patients have already been able to return home much sooner because of the help and support from colleagues at Warm Homes.”
Councillor Tony Goldson, Suffolk County Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Chair of the Suffolk Health and Wellbeing Board, said: “Having a warm home is critical to a person’s health and wellbeing which is why Suffolk County Council feels it is important to continue to support the Warm Homes, Healthy People programme. We know the service makes a real difference to the lives of many residents in Suffolk and I am delighted they have secured additional funding to strengthen the support they can offer.”