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Supported Living Homes Really Do Cut The Burden On The NHS

Want to know how to save the NHS millions of pounds?  Housing with support is one idea that has definitely earned its right to be on top of the list of answers, in fact it has been there since 2009. Allow the ears to strain just a little and its voice can be quietly heard in this time of election, amidst the cacophony of feel good and feel bad stories.

For years T.P Properties has known that supported living homes not only benefit each tenant that they serve, but they also bring a cost savings to the public purse - a trail blazer before the formal concept of supported living in the UK.  Our 25 year plus history was founded on these principles.  In fact we have always ploughed our own path, finding only this week that we buck another current trend, that of the reduction in bungalow construction and availability.  The National Federation of House Builders reported that the number of bungalows being built is declining every year.  In 1996, seven percent of new-builds were bungalows, but by 2013 that figure had slumped to just two percent.  The bungalow has always been a firm friend in our property acquisitions, conversions and creations, as this type of dwelling often meets both the needs of the tenant and the public purse, take one look at the Pilling Lane model to know this to be true.

As far back as 2009 Capgemini reported that investment in packages of support that included housing-related support services avoided costs elsewhere, producing a net financial benefit; for every £1.00 invested in preventative services a £2.13 saving was made to statutory services' budgets. The National Housing Federation (NHF) found in 2013 that through the integration of care, support and housing, savings of £18,000 per person, per year could be achieved; it continues to encourage an 'alternative care pathway' to well-being.  

However, in the wake of the election under the housing hubbub of 'Right to Buy' arguments, there seems to be a quiet revolution going on which seeks to underscore the effectiveness of supported living homes in bringing overall public cost savings via the improvement in people's lives.  This week has seen Wales shout from the rooftops about how supported housing has saved their NHS millions of pounds; whilst Manchester housing looks at the devolution of health budgets; then the prison service reports that housing with support reduced re-offending and costs; the Government set to probe if housing can cut NHS costs, Norman Lamb calling for people with learning disabilities and autism to move 'into the community and live independently if possible,' and Shropshire council added housing to its 'Lets talk local' scheme, all these were established as part of the acknowledgement of the value of community based housing married to social care prevention in a time of austerity.

The Welsh social landlord story headed this supported housing message, and claimed that through a housing:care partnership a saving will be made to the local NHS of £1.7m in the next financial year. This project addressed the needs of only thirty three patients with mental health issues or learning disabilities, and housed them in affordable housing rather than hospital or care homes.  

T.P Properties has developed similar initiatives in collaboration with forward thinking health authorities and local councils, again with outstanding results.  Relatively recent projects were inspired by the 2012 report by the Housing Learning and Improvement Network (Housing LIN) and a consortia of providers under the auspices of 'Care & Repair England' and the work of the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) who published the 'Hospital2Home' resource pack, though this philosophy has its roots in 2010. The CIH publication found that the cost to the NHS of keeping a patient in hospital when they were ready to be discharged was around £260 a day. Furthermore, Department of Health data showed that during March 2012 over 71,000 days were lost because of delayed hospital discharge. That meant that the delays in March 2012 would have cost about £18.5m. These figures are said to be increasing year on year.

Housing LIN, an organisation to connect people, ideas and resources in the housing market are, like the CIH, championing supported housing but this time through their publication Cost Model: Extra Care Housing which like the other articles was released this week.  Though this document focuses on the needs of older people, parallels can be drawn with the country's disabled groups who are also ever ageing, increasing in number and are subject to unprecedented financial pressures on their provision of housing through reductions in public funding. These include withdrawal of support for housing Private Finance Initiatives, cuts to local authority grants, the impact of welfare reforms and the attempts to integrate adult social care and the National Health Service while the latter is going through a radical restructuring.

Housing LIN are calling for an era of collaboration, T.P Properties believe that the word 'disabled' could easily be substituted into their battle cry asking everyone involved 'to identify solutions that will meet the housing expectations of an increasingly ageing population whose members are also more demanding than ever in the type of accommodation they consider acceptable — old-style sheltered housing is no longer sufficient and residential care is considered a last resort.  It is therefore vital that local authorities, registered providers, developers and the health and social care sectors continue to develop effective partnerships and work closely together to find solutions.'

In respect of the Welsh hospital to home project Mark Gardner, chief executive of Melin Homes echoed beliefs that T.P Properties has held for a long time, he said, ‘We stand a really good chance of reducing the burden on the NHS.’  In addition, Andrew Goodall, chief executive of NHS Wales, a founder member of the scheme said, ‘We had patients and clients with very significant health needs that were languishing in an institutional setting in hospital, when they could be elsewhere.’   However, maybe the most important words on the success of such projects should go to one of T.P Properties' tenants who said after five years of being on a hospital ward:

'This is honestly one of the highlights of my life.  The Development Team were patient and fantastic. After five years of feeling like services had let me down I now feel that I can get on with my life.  It was so emotional on the first day I kept pinching myself as I couldn’t believe it was real.  I will miss the team enormously – so please stay in touch!'

In recent weeks we have been introduced to the concept of 'Healtholopis' as Manchester sets to become the first region to leap wholeheartedly into actually implementing these ideals of health integration.  Hopefully, the tenant mentioned above will be one of the last to face an excruiating wait for services...fingers are firmly crossed.

Want to join the hospital to home revolution?  Need to partner with a professional outfit that has a proven track record in supported living homes and hospital discharge for those with complex needs?  See how such a collaboration has worked in practice by taking a peek at how an actual project develops in real time, or if you just want to know a little more about us and our supported living homes...take a look!


We stand a really good chance of reducing the burden on the NHS.