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Blog 26/09/2018 Health & wellbeing

Healthy by design

At the beginning of the year, Hanover applied to be one of NHS England’s key partners in a groundbreaking initiative to develop healthier places across the country. In doing so this would help tackle some of the biggest health and care challenges facing local communities.

I’m pleased to say that we were selected as one of only 12 organisations to join what is known as the Healthy New Towns Network (HNT). This is a great outcome, and reinforces our commitment to embedding beneficial health and wellbeing plans as part of our offer for older people, supporting them to live healthy, independent and fulfilling lives.

It’s exciting to be part of such an important and ambitious undertaking. We’ll be able to explore new and innovative ways to tackle important public health problems such as obesity, dementia and social isolation. We can be at the forefront of shaping healthier communities and helping other organisations to see what can be done to deliver an integrated approach that better marries housing, health and support services.

So what might this mean for the work we do at Hanover? Among other things, this can help us to be a trailblazer, building innovative housing developments, including fully tech-enabled homes, integrated indoor and outdoor gyms and even designing developments which can incorporate dementia-friendly streets, parks and local facilities.

Some of the other concepts we have been exploring that could contribute to the work of the HNT are:

  • wider incorporation of reablement-type flats
  • greater landscaped areas that allow residents to maintain their fitness and stamina, allow for community engagement (including local schools) and enhanced sensory experiences
  • integrating communal space designed as a multi-functional hub to facilitate external pop-up services and community activities, such as healthy food cafes, art classes or mindfulness courses
  • widespread use of assistive devices such as the Amazon Echo Shows, Fitbits, and so on

Hanover starts from a position of strength, given the steps we’re already taking to embed our Wellbeing Strategy across the organisation. We want to be more proactive in our approach to improving the health and wellbeing of residents, doing so in a way that responds to their changing needs and aspirations, the environment and broader society. As such, some recent examples include:

  • a brand new development at Pemberley Place, Bath, offering over 55s the flexibility to adjust to their changing needs
  • intergenerational projects, such as those at Croxley Green and Bristol
  • the opening of an outdoor gym at Marina Court, Tewkesbury 
  • community lunch clubs and day centres hosted at Hanover estates, including those at Gloucester and Loughborough
  • another sensory garden opening at Hanover Gardens, Bicester.

By being one of the specialist providers for older people, Hanover has a unique opportunity as part of the HNT. We see it as an ideal chance to work openly with NHS and other partners, progressing multiple initiatives collectively and maximising our learning along the way. Other members of the network will be able to review our findings, share their own approaches and concepts, and help bring about a unified approach which could be of tremendous value for the housing market and health and social care.

Announcing that we would be part of this initiative, Professor Sir Malcolm Grant, Chair of NHS England, said: ‘The Healthy New Towns Network means new and exciting ideas of healthy living will be at the heartbeat of towns and villages of the future. We aim to enable millions of people across the country, and future generations, to live happier and healthy lives, which is vital to delivering the 10 year plan for the NHS.’

Watch out for future updates as the network begins to advance and share recommendations, and as we further develop our own innovations.

Nick Sedgewick

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