Healthy Homes Initiative evaluation shows strong health benefits

Media release

23 September 2019

Findings from an evaluation of the Healthy Homes Initiative, which was established to support low-income families with children to live in warm and dry homes, shows it has resulted in fewer medicines dispensed, fewer GP visits and fewer admissions to hospital for children referred.

This is the first stage of the evaluation and is a strong endorsement of the benefits of the Healthy Homes Initiative (HHI).

The evaluation, published today, shows that there is considerable health improvement for children in the year after their homes are made warmer and drier.

The evaluation estimates that for every ten children referred to the programme, there were six fewer filled prescriptions, six fewer GP visits and one less child in hospital over the next year.

As at 31 December 2018, the HHI has received 15,330 eligible referrals, and the evaluation shows that the service has resulted in 1,533 fewer hospitalisations; 9,443 fewer GP visits; and 8,784 fewer medicines for the referred children.

The evaluation shows that the benefits translated into significant savings for the health sector. The Healthy Homes service is anticipated to avert approximately $30 million in health care costs over three years, and the predicted return on investment for funded HHI programme costs is expected to be less than two years.

The next phase of the evaluation will focus on the impact of the HHI programme on wider health and social outcomes for other household members that have benefited from receiving HHI programme.

Background

The Healthy Homes Initiative started in 2013 and is delivered across 11 DHBs with high incidence of rheumatic fever, as part of the Rheumatic Fever Prevention Programme. The service was expanded in 2016 to improve outcomes for pregnant women and 0–5 year olds.

The aim of the service is to reduce the number of hospitalisations by increasing the number of children living in warm, dry and healthy homes.

As at 31 December 2018, the Healthy Homes Initiative (HHI) has received 15,330 eligible referrals.

The programme relies on collaboration and partnership from Housing New Zealand, Ministry of Social Development, the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority and the Ministry of Building Innovation and Employment, as well a range of local partners and philanthropic organisations. 

The purpose of this evaluation is to determine whether the programme improved health and social outcomes for families who took part, and whether the programme offers value for money. The research was carried out by He Kainga Oranga, the Housing and Health Research Programme, University of Otago (Wellington). The Ministry of Health, Housing New Zealand and the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development co-funded this evaluation. 

The next stage of the evaluation will be completed in late 2020.  

The Healthy Homes Initiative was recently awarded the Better Outcomes Award (Te Tohu mō ngā Hua E Pai Ake Ana) and the overall winner and recipient of the Prime Minister’s Award (Te Tohu a te Pirimia) 2019 at the State Service’s Commission Spirit of Service Awards.