Healthy Homes: Liverpool
The Healthy Homes Programme aims to reduce preventable death and ill health due to poor housing conditions in Liverpool. It is run by Liverpool City Council, funded by Liverpool PCT, and carried out in partnership with a large number of supporting agencies.
Liverpool has one of the highest mortality rates in England, some of the greatest health inequalities. The Department of Health estimates that poor housing conditions cause around 500 deaths per year in Liverpool, many of which are caused by illnesses and preventable accidents in the home.
The Healthy Homes programme aims to reduce these figures, and is targeted at some of Liverpool’s most vulnerable residents in private rented accommodation. This includes families as well as vulnerable adults and older people.
The aim is to enter 15,000 properties throughout the course of the programme, provide education and health services to those who need them, and serve notices on landlords where necessary to ensure that they carry out relevant improvement work.
How does the Healthy Homes programme work?
Trained advocates of the programme knock on doors in areas identified as deprived, with the aim of engaging residents and carrying out a survey on their living conditions.
Once residents have completed a survey, their answers are assessed to see if they could benefit from further help. The visitors are trained to assess the most dangerous hazards in the homes that they visit, and make referrals to relevant partner agencies if necessary. This can include health services (e.g. dentists, nutritionists) as well as environmental health officers, Sure Start Children’s Centres, and the fire service.
Healthy Homes community education
The programme scope also includes community education, with many activities focused at educating children about safety so that they can carry the message home with them.
Liverpool City Council use Child Safety Week as an opportunity to get their safety message heard in 42 primary schools throughout the area. In 2010 they organised a number of events for children to get them learning about safety:
- A poster competition in primary schools – children designed their own safety poster to teach their classmates about hazards in the home.
- A visit to the Dangerpoint interactive safety centre. Healthy Homes funds went towards a trip for children from 4 Liverpool primary schools. The pupils were taken to Dangerpoint – a safety centre with a number of interactive scenarios designed to help children learn about safety in a hands-on way.
- For 2011, the Healthy Homes team plans to bring a safety drama production to primary schools. They are commissioning a local drama group to devise an interactive show that will get children thinking and learning about hazards in the home.
Who is involved with the project?
The project is run by Liverpool City Council and funded by Liverpool Primary Care Trust. However, the programme could not be successful without the cooperation of a wide range of partners. Once a home survey has been carried out, the advocates need to have a variety of agencies on-hand who can deal with specific problems. There are currently 16 partner agencies who deal with referrals from the Healthy Homes team, including health partners, Merseyside Fire and Rescue, Childrens Centres, the Citizens Advice Bureau, and many others from the voluntary sector.
The programme is organic, and Liverpool City Council will be reviewing it ongoing to see how the work can be improved as it progresses. At the moment only properties in the most deprived areas are being targeted, but a possible extension to the project would be to start surveying properties outside the most deprived areas but where there are nevertheless high concentrations of groups who might be at risk – older people and vulnerable families.
Outcomes and evaluation Healthy Homes launched in April 2009 and so far over 7600 properties have been visited. Of those visited, at least 5400 (over 1/3 of the target 15,000) have had a survey carried out.
Although not all properties are referred on to a partner, a large number of them qualify for a referral, with some being referred to more than one agency for further help.
- 1405 to environmental health officers
- 168 to dentists
- 1084 to nutrition departments within health
- 985 to fuel poverty advisors
- 901 to the fire service
The programme has also had positive response from Liverpool residents.
Phil Hatcher, Programme Manager for the Liverpool Healthy Homes Programme, said
“Residents are very eager to learn more about the programme and what is on offer to them. We’re finding that people are signing up to a range of services that they previously hadn’t accessed. The Healthy Homes programme is making a real difference to real people’s lives. Instead of sitting in an office talking about it, looking at strategy, we’re actually getting out there, making a real difference, improving people’s housing conditions, improving access to services and improving health and wellbeing.”
The programme has been recognised as a good example of a public health project, and was shortlisted for a public health award in 2010.
Find out more
Liverpool City Council’s website has more information on the Healthy Homes Programme, or visit the Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Services (LACORS) website to view a more detailed Healthy Homes case study.