Supported accommodation can play a key role in preventing issues such as unnecessary hospital admission, but it can’t achieve great results on its own, says Rachael Byrne
A new report from the King’s Fund, Delivering Sustainability and Transformation Plans, has outlined the significant challenge faced by the NHS as senior leaders are charged with the rollout of STPs – while simultaneously sustaining pressured services.
The report highlights the huge change in landscape since the Five Year Forward View was published, and discusses the risk that work to sustain services during this particularly pressured time could ‘crowd out efforts to transform care’.
Of course, all organisations have to balance an element of firefighting with strategic development. But for the NHS, this has become far more than ‘business as usual’, and the balance is tipping unfavourably.
So there’s never been a better time for housing to step up and play our role in improving health outcomes.
Providing appropriate accommodation also prevents admission. Indeed, a report by the Building Research Establishment concluded that poor housing is estimated to cost the NHS £1.4bn per annum.
All organisations have to balance an element of firefighting with strategic development. But for the NHS, this has become far more than ‘business as usual’, and the balance is tipping unfavourably.
In its report, the King’s Fund talks about the missing detail required to improve admission prevention and improved community resilience, alternative care settings and the need to reach out to other organisations and sectors. Housing may be that missing detail.
Of course, many may argue that the housing sector does not possess the appropriate clinical resources with which to deal with these issues. Let me address this in two points.
Firstly, many of the pressures facing the NHS, particularly around delayed transfers of care, are the result of non-medical factors. Medically fit patients are trapped in hospital settings – which hinders recovery and reduces much needed bed spaces.
Supported accommodation can play a key role here – through the provision of care to support patients with community re-integration. Individuals may need temporary accommodation if they have nowhere else to go, and the support to find and sustain their own tenancy.
Additionally, short term care packages can allow people to regain their independence, self-manage their health and grow in confidence. This is precisely what Home View, a Home Group service in Blackpool, delivers.
Home View is a mental health service and partnership with Lancashire Care Trust. It provides a safe and supported environment that encourages patients to regain independence through the provision of self-contained accommodation, support and clinical care as well as access to engaging communal spaces.
In its first year of operation 55 patients have been discharged to Home View early and resettled into their own accommodation with the right support in place.
My second point is around transformation. Just as the NHS recognises the need to transform, so do we. We know we need to flex and revise our services to meet the demands of today’s society, and that is exactly what we have been doing.
Through strategic collaboration with the NHS we can deliver new care models that improve patient outcomes and enable independence, therefore reducing crisis and admission
Like the NHS, Home Group is a national organisation with strategic central services and dedicated local teams. Our ability to see the bigger picture and forecast future needs, combined with our wealth of regional knowledge, allows us to work effectively on a number of levels.
With that in mind, we recently recruited into a senior clinical role, to ensure our practice is clinically led, governed well, and interacts well with the NHS. We can increase our preventative role in self-management of health, diet and physical activity etc. alongside more complex interventions in specialist accommodation.
This is precisely where our new clinical team will drive things forward in collaboration with the NHS and our local authority partners.
UK wide supported housing can help in terms of both transformation and sustainability. Through strategic collaboration with the NHS we can deliver new care models that improve patient outcomes and enable independence, therefore reducing crisis and admission. However, in the immediate climate, we can and do relieve bed pressures in some areas of the country.
My ambition is that the sector can make a bigger difference to the national picture in this respect. We are ensuring we are fit to work with health – is health ready to collaborate with housing?
Rachael Byrne is executive director for new care models at Home Group