Wednesday, 10 February 2021
Guest blog by Steve Harris, Business Development Director
As a not-for-profit housing association, we are values-led and committed to providing housing solutions for tenants with complex support needs. The majority of our tenants have learning disability and we work closely with local clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) and National Health Service England (NHSE) as part of the Government’s national Transforming Care Plan to enable independent living.
Set up in 2012 following the Winterbourne View scandal, Transforming Care is a programme that aims to help people with learning disability move out of inpatient care and into supported living in the community. Consequently, our tenants become more independent, and along with their families are able to make choices about the care they receive.
I think in the past it was difficult to find appropriate housing for people with learning disability due to a lack of alternatives, so hospital and institutional care tended to be the only solution, but one of the things Transforming Care helps to do is address this by providing capital to buy housing.
How it works at Reside
For Reside, the process of acquiring property, making adaptations and securing the grant funding for a potential tenant takes around six months. In the first instance, either a Support Provider, NHSE or a CCG will contact us to discuss viability – we’ll consider the options and decide whether we can deliver.
Next we’ll work with the prospective tenant and family or advocate, and professional partners to draw up a Project Initiation Document (PID) to apply for the grant. Following approval, we’ll then locate the property, embark on the conveyancing and appoint a project manager who will be the operational lead in making sure that adaptations and works to the identified property are specified and delivered.
Families and potential tenants are of course crucial in this process to ensure we’re going to deliver what they need. We’ll also involve support providers in this process, as they need to know about the property and advise us on adaptations.
With a grant-funded project, we’re accountable to and monitored by NHSE (who is essentially buying a service from us) to ensure our delivery is timely and on budget. The PID sets out the terms before the money is released and NHSE will meet with us regularly to make sure we’re on track. After the tenant has moved in to the property, ongoing monitoring also takes place.
The story so far
We have been part of the Transforming Care programme for around two years and we’ve completed on four properties in this time and have another three in the pipeline. To date, I believe our most successful property is the latest in West Yorkshire for a young man with learning disability. We’ve had the highest level of engagement with partners, NHSE and the family. The conveyancing, works specification and legal processes have been smooth.
But it hasn’t always been this seamless. Delivering housing solutions as part of the Transforming Care Plan has not been without its challenges and sometimes circumstances beyond our control cause delays.
For one property we discovered that there was asbestos in the loft which wasn’t picked up in the survey which of course we had to put right. Operational issues like this are difficult. We have had a steep learning curve and now have robust internal processes to address problems like these.
So why are we committed to helping people with the Transforming Care Plan?
From a values perspective, we’re providing a personalised solution that wouldn’t be normally be available, and that massively improves tenants’ quality of life. We’re collaborating with stakeholders and working to address a situation that is untenable; which is over 2,000 people with learning disability in hospital, and the housing solution that we’re providing provides better overall value for public funds.