South East conference masterclass: Reimagining sheltered housing
This was a lively session. Peter Huntbach of Brighton and Hove City Council spoke about applying an “asset and deficit” approach to understand residents’ needs, whilst Jo Linney of CIH provided an overview of the current risks and the links to the health and wellbeing agenda.
The key issues facing sheltered housing in 2016 are namely cuts in funding via Supporting People (SP) money and the one per cent rent reduction.
Peter explained that Brighton and Hove City Council were no longer in receipt of Supporting People funding and had reviewed their approach. The review concluded how important an active scheme social life is to combating isolation and helping older people to live in a home they wish to life in. Peter felt that although SP had delivered significant improvements in how services were delivered, particularly around professionalising the scheme manager role; we had possibly lost things that were good and residents valued, along the way.
Peter urged delegates and providers to reconsider their position on ageing. He added that “the Care Act was a very helpful tool” to understand prevention measures.
However, the review had also concluded that the previous approach (which he called the "deficit approach") reducing the social aspect of support to residents in order to carry out functions such as support planning, had been incorrect and focused on what was wrong, rather than on the positive influence that support could make on residents' lives.
Jo highlighted the fast changing environment with increasing risks for the provision of older people's accommodation.
In the current climate tenants on benefits will be increasingly unable to afford rents in all sectors and Jo highlighted the ethical dilemmas this will create for providers on who will house the poor and vulnerable.
Despite additional funding; the NHS faces a £22 billion funding gap by 2029. Also, research shows that 29 per cent of hospital bed days are used by patients whose admission could be avoided. By delivering care and support either closer to, or in patients own homes, could deliver £3.4 billion of productivity savings. Jo cited the Cap Gemini report, which evidences the financial savings achieved through the Supporting People programme.
Jo concluded by stating that providers of housing with support and care have a unique scale, reach, experience and community assets to bring health into the home through a range of different approaches.
It was clear that the picture is complex and there are significant threats to current and future provision approaching from all sides. The sector needs to mobilise to react and adjust to the new environment; standing still is not an option. Increasing pressure in the NHS and Health commissioning, particularly around low level care, means that there is a golden opportunity for sheltered housing providers to collaborate with the health sector.