Warm Home Prescription recommended by 93% of health professionals in latest trial

  • Innovation service, Warm Home Prescription, supports people with cold sensitive health conditions to stay warm and well at home ­– and out of hospital
  • The 2022/23 Warm Home Prescription (WHP) trial supported 823 patients and was delivered in partnership with the NHS and energy advice organisations
  • 93% of participants indicated that they place greater importance on being warm than they did before the trial, with 98% saying they would take part in WHP again
  • 94% of health professionals were satisfied with the WHP experience, and 93% of delivery staff would like to see WHP offered again during winter
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VIDEO: Warm Home Prescription – Impact on Health & Wellbeing and Attitudes to Heat in 2022/23 trial

Following the success of the 28-home 2021/22 Warm Home Prescription (WHP) pilot in Gloucestershire, Energy Systems Catapult, in partnership with local NHS partners and local energy advice organisations, undertook the largest trial of its kind in 2022/23, supporting 823 vulnerable and low-income individuals in Aberdeen, Middlesbrough, Gloucestershire and London.

Living in a cold home can raise the risk of a number of health conditions, with an estimated 10,000 people dying each year across the UK as a result. Warm Home Prescription, invented by Energy Systems Catapult, works to find vulnerable people with health conditions made worse by the cold and gives them immediate, effective support to keep their home at a healthy, warm temperature.

Findings from the 2022/23 trial provide strong support for the impacts of the WHP project. Positive outcomes were reported by WHP recipients and healthcare professionals alike.

Patients were able to get warm, improving health and wellbeing

The trial overwhelmingly demonstrated the value of WHP to vulnerable and low-income individuals, with more than 4 out of 5 recipients heating their homes to warmer temperatures than in previous years. 51% of WHP recipients heated their homes to a much warmer temperature than before by at least 2 degrees.

During the trial, the health and wellbeing of individuals improved significantly owing to a warmer home:

  • 79% of recipients found it had a positive impact on their physical health,
  • 70% said that it improved their mental health.

Emerging evidence from the trial point to a statistically significant reduction in the number of self-reported overnight stays in hospital. Recipients of the WHP also had a lower usage of primary care health services (GP appointments, out of hours appointments, and prescriptions) this winter compared to previous years.

“WHP made a big difference…I had no hospital admissions this winter but 3 or 4 in previous years”, WHP recipient.

Overall, 98% of WHP recipients would take part in the project again, with 93% placing greater importance on the need to stay warm in their homes.

WHP delivers a positive experience for health and energy professionals

Delivery staff on the project were satisfied with their experience, with 94% of healthcare professionals and 77% energy advisors reporting their satisfaction. Overall 93% of delivery staff would like to see WHP offered again during the winter. Benefits cited for this include:

  • Reducing cost pressures on the NHS and freeing up beds in hospitals
  • Proactively helping vulnerable people through the winter
  • Reduce financial pressures for vulnerable and low income households
  • Helping people to feel adequately warm and comfortable in their homes

“The scheme is a proactive approach which is benefiting patients and keeping people out of hospital potentially reducing costs”, health professional.

More than half of health professionals report that they could easily fit WHP into their usual workload and were able to find the time to identify potential WHP recipients. By prescribing warm homes, health professionals found that they were able to signpost recipients to additional support services such as energy advice that can provide tailored support.

“The team felt as though they were really making a difference to the people they were calling [to provide support]”, health professional.

Opportunities for WHP to support home retrofit

In addition to providing energy bill support, energy efficiency measures designed to reduce the energy it takes to heat a home were also explored with WHP recipients.

After experiencing a warm home through the 2022/23 winter months, 93% of recipients placed greater importance on being warm, with 76% of recipients stating that they would be more likely to welcome energy efficiency improvements to their home after support from WHP because they now valued living at warm health temperatures.

Important drivers for the uptake of energy efficiency and low carbon heating by these residents included (in order of importance):

  • How easy it is for them to keep as warm as they want
  • How much healthier they will feel
  • How much energy bills will reduced

Despite this, a number of barriers to implementing energy efficiency persist, including:

  • Upfront cost
  • Product lifespan
  • Ease to control/maintain
  • How the changes look/aesthetics
  • Installation disruption

These barriers can be overcome with the right advice and support from a trusted professional. The WHP trial found that 68% of recipients would respond well to receiving advice or support from an NHS professional on matters of energy efficiency, though this would need to be considered as part of broader messaging on patient wellbeing.

Dr Rose Chard, Fair Future Programme Lead at Energy Systems Catapult, said:

“Thousands of people are at risk of ill health and dying every year because of cold homes.  Warm Home Prescription aims to change the way we respond to this fatal challenge. Scaling up the trial this year was about more than simply paying energy bills, we wanted to explore an efficient way to target people whose health is at risk and provide the support that they need to achieve a warm home permanently. It is vital that we understand how home energy improvements could be delivered in a way that works for more vulnerable people, so that now one is left behind as the UK moves towards the Net Zero target.

“The findings are clear, when using the WHP, recipients stay warm, well, and out of hospital. We’ve seen improvements in physical and mental wellbeing, helping recipients to better enjoy their lives and ease the financial burden of a cold home. Vulnerable and low-income individuals are also more willing to consider making energy efficiency upgrades to their homes to lock in heat and make comfort a long-term reality.

“This project has laid the groundwork for future trials that scale up WHP across the UK. We’ve seen first-hand that it works and makes a tangible contribution to the lives of recipients. We’re going to be doing further work to develop the proposition and how energy efficiency and low carbon heating can be incorporated into the service. But this is a marathon, not a sprint. We have an opportunity to create a service from the ground up that reshapes how we deliver proactive care for vulnerable households”.

Sheffield Hallam University has carried out an independent Impact and Value for Money assessment of Energy Systems
Catapult’s Warm Home Prescription (WHP) project, which was funded by bp. It has been produced by the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research (CRESR) at Sheffield Hallam University.

Read the Report

Warm Home Prescription - Impact on Health & Wellbeing and Attitudes to Heat

Read the Sheffield Hallam University report

Warm Homes Prescription – Impact and Value for Money Report

Warm Home Prescription

An innovative service that supports people with cold sensitive health conditions to stay warm and well at home – and out of hospital.

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