An NHS Trust is tackling homelessness and housing issues as part of its clinical efforts to help patients with mental health needs.
Sussex Partnership NHS Trust is leading one of the first initiatives in the country that aims to directly tackle accommodation issues and homelessness by integrating housing roles into clinical teams.
As the trust points out, there is growing evidence and awareness that poor quality housing, and the threat or experience of homelessness, has a negative impact on mental health, and outcomes for recovery, both over the short and the long term.
“Not having the right housing can be a huge challenge to mental health recovery and result in individual’s mental health needs being met in inappropriate locations, such as inpatient mental health wards or emergency care settings, the organisation said.
Chris Harris, the trust’s associate director of housing, said: “Having access to good quality housing is a fundamental foundation for positive mental health and emotional well-being.
“One of the key objectives of our housing strategy is to embed housing expertise across our mental health services. To deliver this we have created a Housing Needs Triage process to help our frontline staff identify housing needs as early as possible during our core care planning.
“We have also recruited housing staff into our transformed community mental health teams who provide expert housing advice and input to people at the earliest possible point of their treatment and created systems that record useable housing data that shapes our future plans.”
Sussex Partnership co-produced these new ways of working with people using services, local authorities, and voluntary sector partners.
It says the the new processes help clinical teams to quickly identify housing and homelessness needs as soon as people come into contact with its adult mental health services. A new team of housing specialists, located with local authority housing partners, then work alongside people with housing needs to deliver housing advice, support, and interventions that prevent or relieve homelessness.
During the first six months of operation, the trust says that 251 people got new accommodation or were supported to retain their existing housing. As a result, housing-related delays to discharge reduced by more than half.
Peter Molyneux, the trust’s chair, said: “We are incredibly proud of this work. We are already seeing positive results including people’s housing outcomes significantly improving. Through partnership work we are helping to jointly prevent homelessness and far fewer people are using inpatient services because they have an appropriate place to live.”
Jayne Knight, partner organisation Arun Council’s housing options manager, added: “I am grateful that our team has been one of the pilot authorities partaking in the initiative. The outcomes are clear – shorter stays in hospital, quicker discharges and less clients with mental health conditions in temporary accommodation.
“Both [Sussex Partnership] and Arun Housing Options have benefited from the housing worker roles, but most importantly, so have the clients of both services. Having a stable home environment leads to better long-term engagement with mental health support and recovery.”
Image credit: KATTY ELIZAROVA/Shutterstock
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