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Charis Grants Ltd., one of the UK’s leading funds administrators, is launching a Warm Home Prescription initiative that enables NHS Trusts, GPs and other social care organisations the opportunity to ‘prescribe’ a warm home and hot food voucher to those considered vulnerable and at most risk. The initiative specifically addresses the wider social determinants of health, such as the physical implications of living in cold homes, to prevent the need for, or reduce the length of, hospital stays, as well as preventing vulnerable people from returning to unsuitable accommodation after a hospital stay.

The scheme includes Charis working with hospital discharge teams to ensure that patients can access a warm home and a hot meal on discharge from hospital to boost their recovery. This helps to prevent any relapse into illness and a potential readmission, as well as impacting the shortage of beds.

“The result of older people ending up in hospitals on overnight stays ends up costing the NHS millions. In fact, we have seen studies that estimate the cost of cold homes to the NHS to be in the region of £1.4 billion,” commented Graham Ayres, Chair and CEO. “The average cost of one night in hospital is £400. A £49 energy voucher could keep someone warm and comfortable in their own home for at least a week, if not longer. In fact, to match one night at £400, you could issue nearly two months’ worth of vouchers, which would take someone through the very worst of the winter months.”

Living in a cold environment is not only a miserable existence but can lead to deep depression for many older people. They are already suffering from increasing loneliness, and combined with the fact that they are living in a cold home, this can significantly impact an individual’s mental and physical health. Cold houses naturally have higher rates of condensation, which not only produce damp living conditions but also increase the occurrence of mould, which has been proven to lead to respiratory illnesses in both the elderly and very young. The simplest solution to avoiding this situation is to make a warmer home more accessible.”

As well as providing energy vouchers, Charis’ prescription voucher scheme also includes hot food vouchers. When patients are discharged from hospital, they are often returning to much loved but extremely cold homes with empty cupboards. Unable to shop, much less cook, a hot food voucher allows them to purchase from food delivery companies such as Deliveroo and UberEATS.

Charis’ Warm Homes prescription initiative is administered through the Charis Shop, an online platform that issues the vouchers digitally direct to a beneficiary’s phone. The health or social care organisation has 24-hour access to the Shop, drawing down on funding through a dedicated account, which has been set up with criteria and filters relating to their specific needs.