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Theme 4: Housing and health: SMART, Equal, Independent

Our approach

We worked with Sandwell Primary Care Trust, the University of Birmingham, Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council and Sandwell Homes to study the effects of an ongoing programme to improve home insulation and equip houses with new technology to combat fuel poverty, which is associated with poor health and death. We also looked at the effect of the distribution and density of takeaway food outlets on health in Sandwell and reviewed evidence around the strategies adopted by neighbourhood policing teams that have reduced crime and antisocial behaviour effectively.

Our projects

Telecare – telehealth

In Sandwell the focus is to support citizens to live at home independently - and for longer - with increased care and support in the community enabling self management. Many vulnerable people prefer to stay in their own homes rather than accept institutional care. In this theme the effect of an ongoing programme to improve home insulation and a technology based innovation, involving houses equipped with telecare facilities, was studied. Social and community health services play an important role in supporting vulnerable people at home but they cannot monitor people at all times and incapacity can affect carers or people living on their own at any time.

Housing and health

Improve patient homes to combat poor health

In the Health and Housing work we aimed to capture the thermal efficiency of the dwellings in the study and a predictor variable using building Research Establishment Models. Our key research partner for this work was Sandwell Homes.

Planning for health

As the integration of the Public Health function into Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council was implemented, various cross cutting areas of policy concern emerged. One of these was food and health. Building on existing research in the Public Health Department on food geography, a mapping exercise was undertaken on pre-prepared hot food. With co-operation from Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council and the neighbouring Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council, the distribution and density of take-away food outlets was mapped and the association between availability of outlets and neighbourhood characteristics studied. This work drew on data from the local authority, in co-operation with the Planning Department, the Environmental Health Department and Geographical Information Systems expertise provided by the University of Birmingham.

Crime and health

Looking at what works to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour is supported by an evidenced based policing matrix tool. The policing matrix is an interactive tool with clusters of studies represented as ‘realms of effectiveness’ that have allowed the systematic reviewers to make policy-related generalisations about the evidence in addition to presenting the findings from each study, in each cluster. This translates into types of policing strategies that according to the evidence are most successful deployment tactics.

We formed partnerships in Sandwell with West Midlands Police, the council and other organisations involved in crime reduction and community safety. As a partnership we reviewed the research evidence of neighbourhood and problem area (hotspot or micro place) policing where focused proactive strategies are shown to be the most effective.

Knowledge transfer unit

The Knowledge Transfer Unit (KTU) aimed to translate new research findings into community-based clinical practice. To do this, the unit brought together health and social care, local authority and study investigators to exchange information and develop better processes and practices to communicate with each other and their patients and residents.

The unit was designed to help support the Health and Wellbeing Board and stakeholders in Sandwell with a framework within which to prioritise evidence-based programmes and improve the health and wellbeing of patients, clients and residents in Sandwell.

The KTU model was based on the principles of Collaborations for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care with the purpose to improve our health by translating research evidence into local practice.

This model’s core principles were:

  • Assessing if changes to health and social care services work, where, for whom and at what cost.
  • Identifying research topics to enrich evaluations.
  • Building upon existing relationships between academics, health and social care staff, patients and the public.
  • Build a cohesive knowledge management function.
Author(s) Title Journal Publication date
Rudge, G; Mohammed, MA; Fillingham, S; Girling, A; Sidhu, KS; Stevens, AJ The combined influence of distance and neighbourhood deprivation on Emergency Department attendance in a large English population: a retrospective database study PLoS One
8(7): e67943. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0067943
16 July 2013
Gale, N; Sultan, H elehealth as "peace of mind": embodiment, emotions and the home as the primary health space for people with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder Health and Place
doi: 10.1016/j.healthplace.2013.01.006.
6 March 2013
Mohammed, MA; Rudge, G; Wood, G; Smith, G; Nangalia, V; Prytherch, D; Holder, R; Briggs, J Which is more useful in predicting hospital mortality - dichotomised blood test results or actual test values? A retrospective study in two hospitals PloS One
10.1371/journal.pone.0046860 [doi];PONE-D-12-20159 [pii]
15 October 2012
Mohammed, MA; Sidhu, KS; Rudge, G & Stevens, AJ Weekend admission to hospital has a higher risk of death in the elective setting than in the emergency setting: A retrospective database study of national health service hospitals in England. BMC Health Services Research
2012; 12(1):87
2 April 2012
Dhillon, R; Patel, KCR; Moffitt, D; Lawless, H; Burden, F; Chambers, J; Gill, P; Middleton, J; Westerby, P; Marshall, T A primary care service for cardiovascular risk reduction in first-degree relatives of patients with premature coronary heart disease Primary Care Cardiovascular Journal
2011; 4(4):166-177
doi: 10.3132/pccj.2011.025
1 January 2012

Theme lead

Dr John Middleton and Dr Carl Griffin

  • University of Birmingham
  • Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council
  • Sandwell Homes
  • West Midlands Police
  • Safer Sandwell Partnership
  • Ideal for All
  • Sandwell and West Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Group