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Successful together

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Health and care partners in Leicestershire have placed housing support at the heart of their integration programme.

Leicestershire Health and Wellbeing Board’s Housing Offer to Health report, produced in conjunction with the Chartered Institute of Housing in 2013, was the
catalyst for understanding the critical difference housing makes to health and wellbeing. Leicestershire’s Better Care Fund Plan responded to these findings,
with some exciting new developments implemented over the past 12 months, outlined below.

Supporting discharge for mental health patients

This support scheme to enable mental health patients to settle back into a safe home environment after treatment is a great success. The district, county and city councils, alongside partners in the third sector, are working with Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust’s Bradgate Unit to support patients who need help with housing concerns. Known as the housing discharge enabler, the scheme:

  • Places a housing specialist in the Bradgate Unit, to identify and help overcome housing issues so patients can return home as soon as possible after treatment.
  • Understands and tackles the additional barriers to accommodation faced by patients, for example due to stigma.
  • Provides support once they are home, including help with furniture and benefits.

As well as the positive impact on the patients themselves, the scheme is on track to reduce the cost of housing-related delays at the Bradgate Unit. A formal evaluation currently in progress to quantify the impact this has had is planned for 2015-16.

Examples of people helped by the scheme include:

  • Mr L, who was able to live alone for the first time, following help to find affordable housing and community support.
  • Mr B, who was provided with council accommodation and furniture.
  • Mr J, who, due to changes in his circumstances, was struggling to pay the rent and by the time he was admitted to hospital had accrued thousands in arrears, which was a major factor in the deterioration of his mental health. After a short stay in hospital, Mr J was able to return home, initially to his original
  • address, but was swiftly able to move to more a suitable and affordable home, supported by the housing to health project. This support continued post-discharge to help with housing and employment benefits. Had these issues not been resolved, there was a significant risk of a readmission to hospital.

Housing support at Leicester Royal Infirmary

In December 2014, we allocated a housing support officer to Leicester Royal Infirmary for a two-week trial to assess the housing issues affecting acute
hospital patients. Forty-two per cent of the patients reported a housing or welfare issue that would impair their ability to go home and remain there safely and comfortably.

As a result, the three clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland Association of Councils, Leicester City and Leicestershire district councils, Leicestershire CC and partners in the third sector set up a joint initiative. Initially, two full-time housing experts were employed at the Royal Infirmary to help people with housing needs, including welfare and benefits advice. Based on the early success of this initiative in improving discharge and reducing readmissions, the partners have funded a third post. It has also employed a community support worker to help people once they are back at home so they can avoid readmission.

The Lightbulb housing project

This project, which received a £1m transformation challenge award from the Department of Communities& Local Government, aims to integrate a wide range of housing support into one easy-to-access service across Leicestershire, demonstrating a clear, positive impact on health and wellbeing.

Blaby DC hosts the technical housing and grants officers, occupational therapists and adaptations specialists as a co-located team, to integrate these traditionally fragmented services.

The first two pilots, in Blaby and North West Leicestershire, looked at adaptations in the home for elderly people eg stair lifts, handrails, or changes to a bathroom. The team is already finding ways to streamline the often lengthy processes that can occur between agencies, causing delays and frustrations for
residents and professionals.

Using learning from the adaptations pilot, the rollout will continue into the Hinckley and Bosworth area, where the model will focus on integration with GP practices. Integrating warm homes advice, handyperson services, and hazards/falls prevention are all part of the future vision for Lightbulb.

Cheryl Davenport, director of health and care integration, Leicestershire CC

This article forms part of an LGC & HSJ integration report sponsored by Home Group





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