Environmental Health - residential team work

Environmental Health  - Residential Team Work

Introduction

The residential team within the Environmental Health service carry out a number of functions and interventions aimed at improving the health of the individual and their living environment.

  • Assessing and Tackling Housing conditions. This is achieved by enforcement, facilitating grant aid applications home improvement loans, or providing simple easy to understand advise to allow those who are able to help themselves

  • Regulating high risk property landlords
  • Assisted Cremations
  • Pest Control
  • Animal Welfare
  • Community anti-social behaviour and positive assessment & mediation intervention
  • Residential Noise complaints
  • Licensing of Caravan sites

An example of how these work areas can influence the Boroughs health is the work surrounding housing conditions. Poor housing conditions are linked to a number of detrimental physical and mental health impacts. Studies have shown that inadequate levels of heating and additional factors associated with fuel poverty are linked, to respiratory problems in children and an increased risk of mortality in older adults, and in particular older men (ONS, 2013/14).


In addition to excessive cold, other hazards such as falls, excessive heat, communicable diseases and sanitation arrangements are routinely assessed within the general housing stock (including houses in multiple occupation) under the housing health and safety rating system. Furthermore, assessment against licensing conditions attached to houses in multiple occupation are also carried out.


Work carried out the residential team has explicit and implicit links to the underpinning principles of the Council’s strategic aims and objectives.

 

Work also contributes to the themes set out in the Health and Wellbeing Board strategy.

 

In turn, wider policies and guidance exists to provide lessons on the best approaches to certain day to day issues we face.  For example, we deal with hoarding issues, complaints that could be considered anti-social behaviour

and housing enforcement.


We know that there remains in place a large regulatory framework within which environmental health operates.  We also know that work carried out by regulatory officers aimed at improving public health is not done in isolation of other partners or groups.  For example, officers work with other statutory bodies such as planning officers, fire officers, occupational health, adult and children services.  We also know that working with other agencies provides valued support to our services, such as working with our third party mediation and assessment group, Resolve, or our home improvement agency Aster living, both interactions are  designed to bring about a better living environment for the individuals concerned.


All the above activities have distinct health influences and figure 1 provides a snapshot of the volumes of business the residential team handled in 2014-15.

 

Figure 1 - Volume of business residential team handled. 2014-15

Number of Residential Service Requests – “complaints”

890

Number of third party assessment and mediation referrals

5

Number of Service Requests relating to domestic noise

164

Number of private sector housing Service Requests

92

Number of chargeable pest control visits commenced

144

Total number stray dogs picked up in Wokingham

76

Number of assisted cremations conducted

4

Number of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO’s) visits conducted

49

Source – Wokingham Borough Council (2015)


There does not seem to be any explicit action we take that can be attributed to any particular outcome or trend.


We know we receive many complaints and service request to help the community, however we do not fully understand what effect that intervention has on the individual’s health or quality of life, or the wider community.  It has been recognised that we do not have a full understanding of the influence environmental health has on the local community within the wider context of improving the Borough’s health.


To fund/build on existing research in understanding the wider health effects of environmental health such as that carried out by the CIEH, (http://www.cieh.org/policy/default.aspx?id=57245).  By undertaking qualitative and quantitative evaluation of the work carried out by the team in terms of its impact on human health and health inequalities in the community.  In turn to then build on any recommendations it may make.


Office for National Statistics 2013/14, http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/dcp171778_387113.pdf