A new Warm Home Prescription scheme has been set up in Gloucestershire to support up to 150 people with cold-sensitive health conditions who are struggling with the cost of living.
The scheme is described by One Gloucestershire as “a pioneering new way to target support at the most vulnerable people”.
In order to benefit from the scheme, eligible individuals must be diagnosed with a chronic lung condition such as bronchiectasis or emphysema, and either be under 60 and in receipt of free NHS prescriptions, or over 60 and struggling to pay their heating bill.
These bills will be paid between November 2022 and March 2023 through use of the Government’s Housing Support fund along with support from sustainability charity Severn Wye and non-profit innovation hub Energy Systems Catapult.
Health and care teams including GPs and local social prescribers are working together to identify patients and bring them into the service, which will prescribe a heating plan to keep homes at temperatures recommended by public health guidance, support people with energy efficiency information, and signpost them to other services that could help them.
The team hope that the service can “pay for itself” by keeping patients out of hospital and therefore reducing pressure on other services.
Dr Hein Le Roux, from the NHS in Gloucestershire, commented: “The Warm Home prescription allows us to be more proactive in supporting some of the most vulnerable people in our county. We want to stop people from becoming unwell and help them to stay healthy at home in housing that is safe and warm.”
Owen Callender, Head of Affordable Warmth at Severn Wye Energy Agency, stated: “Working with social prescribers means we’re able to support clients we’ve never been in touch with before, reducing their bills and their fuel stress. At a time when the NHS is recovering from the impact of the pandemic, this project will have enormous social, environmental, and economic impacts, but most importantly it will allow us to improve the wellbeing of some of society’s most vulnerable people.”
Professor Sarah Scott, Executive Director, Adult Social Care, Communities and Wellbeing at Gloucestershire County Council, added that by “coming together as One Gloucestershire health, care and voluntary sector partners to pool our resources”, the most vulnerable residents can be supported to stay well this winter.