How can I build partnerships with housing associations?

From speaking with health professionals we understand that sometimes it seems as if housing associations speak a different language and bridging that gap can be challenging.

But we also know that partnerships can deliver positive health outcomes so we want to break down some of the barriers to make it as easy as possible to partner with housing.

With high demands on your time, it can be tough to find the space to look through all of the resources available. So we have summarised some top tips below. You can find some great, more detailed tools on the NHS Alliance Housing for Health webpages.

1. Identify your local housing stakeholders

Housing associations provide over 2.5 million homes in the UK, right across every CCG area. Knowing who houses your patients is the first step to unlocking partnership opportunities. Our interactive map of health and housing initiatives could help you identify the housing associations in your CCG who are already engaged in partnership work.

2. Understand the jargon

Health initiatives are often carried out as part of housing associations’ ‘Supported Housing’. Organisations run ‘schemes’ for specific ‘client groups’ which improve their health outcomes. We have also published a housing jargon buster.

3. Acknowledge the evidence gap

NHS Alliance Housing for Health has demonstrated that the different attitudes to evidence in the health and housing sectors sometimes presents a challenge for partnership working. They have put together a helpful resource specifically for health providers which helps explain how to bridge the evidence gap.

4. Identify non-medical needs of your patients

At a practice level, there are gaps that housing associations have the potential to fill. Who are your most at-risk, hard-to-reach client groups? Do they live in housing association homes? Would social prescriptions support any of your patients? Could they be delivered by a housing association?

5. Build relationships

A significant barrier to health and housing partnerships is that local health providers and housing associations are rarely in the same room. Find out if your local housing associations have a supported housing offer, or run any floating support services, and meet with their staff and managers.