The Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) is partnering with local health and government agencies to help improve the living conditions for people repeatedly admitted to hospital because of a cold-related illness.
The CDHB, Environment Canterbury, Partnership Health Canterbury Primary Health Organisation, Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) and Community Energy Action (CEA) are working together to deliver a large multi-year project to improve the health of these patients by providing assistance with insulation or heating costs.
Carolyn Gullery, CDHB General Manager Planning and Funding says the pilot for this project is already underway and builds on previous work done by a number of organisations within health and the wider sector.
The CDHB has identified over 500 people who have been admitted to Christchurch Hospital during the last two winters for respiratory illnesses more than once during that time.
"We will be identifying and contacting people with high health needs that we believe will benefit from assistance with insulating or heating their homes," Carolyn says.
Partnership Health Canterbury established the partnership and will manage the programme.
Jane Cartwright, Partnership Health Chief Executive says it's a great opportunity for all the organisations to work together to reduce the effect of damp homes on people's health and the number of times they go to hospital with respiratory illnesses.
"We're also happy to hear from other organisations if they want to come on board," Jane says.
Professor Mike Ardagh, Christchurch Hospital Emergency Medical Specialist says cold and damp homes can cause a range of illnesses and aggravate existing conditions.
"Winter is always a bad time for respiratory illnesses and cold homes can make these problems worse. Add in the chances of getting a cold or flu and this has a direct impact on the number of people who are seen at the Emergency Department," he says.
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