Oxfordshire residents with health needs can now access further support to reduce housing-related health issues thanks to the Better Housing Better Health+ service that offers free home energy visits.
The service aims to ensure safer, more suitable housing conditions, to signpost for support for other social and health problems, and to promote independent living for those with existing health issues.
BHBH+ is a partnership project between Oxfordshire County Council’s adult and children’s social care services and fire and rescue service, the county’s district and city councils, health services, and the voluntary and community sector.
Councillor Mark Lygo, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health said: “The pandemic has served to highlight the role housing plays in health. Good housing can be critical for good health – not just during a pandemic. The winter months can be particularly stressful for those in poor-quality housing, which can exacerbate health conditions. Those who live in the poorest quality housing are more likely to suffer with health problems, such as respiratory issues.
“However, there are a number of steps that can be taken to prevent or manage ill-health such as adaptations to support independent living, making homes more resilient to extreme weather through home improvements and advice, as well as ensuring more secure private tenancies. This could prove particularly vital with fuel prices remaining high.
“The new service will ensure that people who need support will be able to access it by providing those most in need with a home visit to identify somebody’s needs and to connect them to a wide range of support.”
The countywide service will target communities with high health inequalities and will prioritise requests for support from residents living in poor-quality private sector homes.
Is this national or just Oxfordshire?
The BHBH+ service covers Oxfordshire only at the present time.
What are the criteria to have a home assessment?
We can offer a home visit to a wide range of residents, the main criteria being that they are in or at risk of fuel poverty or are vulnerable to the cold / have poor home energy efficiency.
Do you require referrers to have ongoing involvement?
Not necessarily unless there are wider issues identified that need ongoing support and you are in a position to offer this.
Do we need to specify BHBH+ or will you decide on back of basic referral?
Referrers can request a visit in the notes of the referral but we will make the final decision. If you have discussed a home visit with the resident and think it would be helpful please specify in your referral.
If the resident is private rented would you work with the landlord as well?
Yes, we often need to gain the landlord’s involvement in order to make energy efficiency improvements.