Older people's housing - a question of quality
CIH Cymru in partnership with erosh
Seeing our strapline “Championing quality housing and support for our ageing population” on our banner stand, a conference delegate once asked me “What does the quality in quality housing and support look like?” A very good question and one which wasn’t that easily to answer quickly and briefly! But a question this this year’s older people’s housing conference will definitely address.
One could of course argue that the only judge of the quality of anything should be the customer or end user. I would certainly not disagree that older people’s views of the housing and support services they receive should be paramount in any assessment of quality, but I think there is also a place for professional assessment against an agreed set of standards which (and this is key) have been designed with the input of the customer or service user. Relying on one perspective of quality only may not for example necessarily take into account all the ‘behind the scenes’ processes and systems which impact on the end user’s experience; nor recognise the wider role of the provider in a community beyond the service to the individual customer. A more holistic approach to quality assessment from different perspectives results in a more rounded and comprehensive judgement which benefits everybody.
I remember for example many moons ago teaching on the then National Wardens Certificate. Feedback on the quality of the courses was incredibly high not least because this was the first time there had been any kind of qualification for sheltered housing scheme managers who were so grateful to have the opportunity that they rated everything highly even though ‘expert’ quality reviews were not necessarily always quite as complimentary. The better we are at ensuring that all those involved in housing and support services for older people develop standards (what quality looks like) and measure providers against these standards, the better and more reliable the judgement.
There have been, and there still are of course, a variety of standards and quality frameworks such as the Supporting People Quality Assessment Framework and the CHS Service Excellence Standards which set out what quality means for supported housing, as well as other national housing, health and care standards. We have tried to capture the essence of all of these in our own key messages which is our view of what quality housing and support for older people looks like i.e. housing and support which:
- pro-actively involve service users in the design, delivery and development of their services
- addresses social isolation and loneliness by using sheltered housing resources as a hub for all older people in a community
- are person-centred and promote empowerment, independence and choice
- are designed to meet older people’s current and future needs
- are affordable, accessible, inclusive and non-discriminatory
- are delivered by professional staff who are appropriately qualified and regularly trained
- comply with appropriate nationally recognised quality standards
This year’s conference focuses on the question of quality. At the fantastic Village Urban Resort in Swansea, this year’s programme is packed with plenary sessions and practice workshops which come under the umbrella of quality – what does it look like, how do we achieve it, and how do we measure it?
Expert speakers will share with us their views on quality of design, services for people with dementia and people who are lonely or isolated, emerging models of accommodation for older people, how to measure quality/quality standards etc.
Rebecca Mollart, Chief Executive, erosh