100 Ways of Using Data to Make Lives Better

The Effects of Housing-related Support for Vulnerable People on Healthcare Use in Wales

Published on: 20th December 2016

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Case Study 21
Public Health

Laura McGinn and Martin Heaven, Swansea University, Sarah Lowe and Lucie Griffiths, Welsh Government

Researchers at Swansea University worked closely with the Welsh Government to determine whether it was possible to use linked data to demonstrate the effects that the Supporting People Programme had on health service use in Wales.

The Challenge

The Supporting People Programme provides housing-related support to help vulnerable people in Wales to live as independently as possible. Each year the Welsh Government invests over £120 million to support in excess of 60,000 people in Wales to live as independently as they can.

The Supporting People Programme aims to prevent problems in the first place, providing help as early as possible in order to reduce demand on other services such as health and social services.

The Research

This feasibility study aimed to decide whether it was possible to use linked administrative data to demonstrate what outcomes the Supporting People Programme had on health service use in Wales. The research looked to provide feedback to the Welsh Government, helping to shape their decisions around the programme going forward.

The Results

The study found that on average, Supporting People service users had around one more GP visit per month more than a comparison group (a group of people who were eligible for, but did not take up the service). For the majority of the Supporting People service users the use of GP services increased up to and around the point in time when service users began receiving support from Supporting People, followed by a decline which, by 12 months (and in some cases by 6 or even 3 months) after the Supporting People intervention, fell to below the pre-support level.

For some Supporting People service users, the same pattern was seen in visits to A&E with the number of visits falling to below the level seen in the 12 months before support began.

The study concluded that a further evaluation of the Supporting People Programme using linked administrative data would be recommended. As a result a new one-year Welsh Government funded study will now take place.

The Impact

The new project will be an important tool in helping the Welsh Government to evaluate the effect of the Supporting People Programme. In particular, the research will help the Welsh Government to understand the extent to which the Supporting People Programme is achieving its aim of supporting people to secure stable, less risky lifestyles through appropriate housing-related support.

Findings from this study have the potential to feed into policy decision making with regards to the future direction of the Supporting PeopleProgramme.

Ultimately, improvements to the Supporting People Programme and associated services will have the potential to improve the quality of life and ability to live independently of some of the most vulnerable groups in Wales, which includes people threatened with homelessness or those with housing issues.

For further information on the Supporting People Programme please visit http://gov.wales/topics/housing-and-regeneration/services-andsupport/supporting-people/?lang=en

Enquiries to Sarah Toomey, Communications Officer, Farr Institute CIPHER, s.toomey@swansea.ac.uk

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