GUEST BLOG: Evidence – Local Lessons Learnt

I was lucky enough to meet Ellis Turner and hear about some of his work at a housing event last year. Here is some of the great work he and colleagues have been doing. Jill.

In 2011 Islington Council secured funds from the then Primary Care Trust (PCT) to jointly fund the work of an Environmental Health Officer (EHO) post to help achieve some broader public health goals. The project had 3 broad themes:

  • Promote referrals from Health and Social Care for HHSRS assessments
  • Use data and other intelligence to inform proactive housing interventions
  • Promote the role of EHOs as primary preventers of ill health.

Two papers were published in 2015 on the NHS-Islington evidence hub which forms part of Islington’s Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA), both papers evaluate the work of our profession. The first one is Improving housing conditions in the private sector and the second is The role of Environmental Health Officers

Throughout this work, I learnt many things that I’d like to share with other practitioners.

Firstly the need to evidence the outcome of work and evaluate the impact of what we do to help make the business case for prevention with Health and Wellbeing Boards and Clinical Commissioning Groups. Universities can really help as there are lots of research gaps in our professions work compared to other professions, such as the impact of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) licensing.

Secondly how to use data to inform decision making based on evidence and need, a wealth of public health and census data is out there and most of it broken down into very small geographical areas also known as Local Super Output Areas.

Public health teams can really help express relationships for example between the private rented sector and certain health inequalities. The CIEH health mapping tool kit is an excellent resource that sets out how local authorities and Environmental Health departments can use data to inform proactive interventions.

Finally the value in using clinical language when promoting the work of our profession amongst certain audiences especially those in health and social care. I now say how EHOs are primary preventers of ill health, that we prevent accidents and infections and ensure physiological and psychological requirements are met.  This can help shift a perception of our profession away from “Council workers” and towards being seen more as part of the wider public heath work force.

We’ve just made a breakthrough for our EHOs attending some of the integrated care networks and multi-disciplinary teams and having reference to the Housing Health Cost Calculator has been invaluable to help making the business case for the role our profession can make in prevention.

A lot of the success of our preventative work is also down to nurturing good relationships with our partners in health and social care. The success of some partnership working is often simply down to finding another person with an appetite for partnership working.

I’m sure in the future some of these ways of working will all be normal as health, social care and public health practitioners continue to re-align. I think all EHOs have a part to play in helping achieve some of the modern public health agenda and one way of doing this is by publishing evidence that evaluates the impact of our work.

Ellis Turner

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