​Housing project changing lives in Porirua East

Apr 15, 2019 | News

“There’s been a lot of talk for a long time around retrofitting and warm homes, but we wanted to better direct our resources to improve the lives of families dealing with sickness in cold homes,” says Hutt Mana Charitable Trust Chair John Gwilliam.

The Trust already funds over half a million dollars a year of work through Sustainability Trust and Energy Smart, but it wanted to ‘break the mould’ and have something to measure as a result of its investment.

“We knew we had to influence more than just insulation in a roof, it was about the overall health of a family and we wanted to be able to understand how our intervention was able to improve their lives.

“Too often there are multiple agencies dealing with a family, we wanted to go in and give them what they needed in one hit. Be it heating, bedding, curtains, whatever. It was also about using one pot of funding to bring agencies together and share information,” says Mr Gwilliam.

A partnership was formed with Tū Ora Compass Health, who was able to identity Porirua families, who had a child or relative living in the home, hospitalised with respiratory illness in the previous six months.

“We wanted to do more than just look at the health of the individuals and Hutt Mana Charitable Trust wanted to do more than improve housing. Working together we could provide a wrap-around service for some of the most vulnerable families in our community,” says Ranei Wineera-Pārai, Tumai Hauora Manager, for Tū Ora Compass Health.

The Trust provided Tū Ora Compass Health with $125,000 in 2018 to get the pilot started.

“The families were invited to get involved with the first step being a full Well Homes assessment of the whānau and the homes. Then a joint action plan is agreed with the family and either Housing New Zealand (if it’s a state house) or the private landlord if it’s a private property,” says Ms Wineera-Pārai.

“Then it’s about implementing what will make a difference to that particular family, it might be heating but then again it might be installing a washing machine.”

Generally, the service includes a total package of nursing support and energy improvements including everything from warm bedding, to installing insultation to new curtains, whatever is needed.”

Each of the 20 households also received a winter care pack containing the essentials of lightbulbs, detergents, cleaning products as well as winter warmers like blankets and jackets.

The nurse will monitor the impact of the improvements visiting the family for mini assessments at three, six- and 12-month intervals.

Ms Wineera-Pārai says the aim is to implement all the recommendations for all 20 families by the end of August 2019. “We plan to assess how the recommendations work this winter and then tweak what we need to change.”

Both Hutt Mana Charitable Trust and Tū Ora Compass Health are excited about future opportunities to expand the project.

“We hope to be able to prove with this project that our partnered intervention has stopped kids and other vulnerable people going to hospital and made families healthier. If we can do that, we hope to be able to lead more Government attention and funding down the same path,” says Mr Gwilliam.

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