Conservative led Wiltshire Council is asking residents at its sheltered housing sites to give their views on how they can best be supported to live independently in the future.
Currently residents can access a discretionary service called Housing Related Support to help with everyday living if they want to use it. However, less than half of the tenants use the service and there is significant overlap between the support and the housing management legally provided by registered landlords. The service was designed some years ago to help people live independently but is now out of date and does not target people who need support the most. The service is due to come to an end in March 2022.
The service costs almost £1m a year which is equivalent to £800 for each tenant currently using it. The council is working with the providers to identify which existing services can support tenants if needed, or what additional support should be commissioned to meet individual need. The service is a discretionary top-up support which is separate from council-funded care packages for those who have specific social care needs. Last year the council consulted the tenants using the service to find out more about how they used it. This will ensure services are centred on the person and target those who would most benefit from support.
At a cabinet meeting on 29 June, Wiltshire Council members will be asked to agree to consult with tenants on a transition to a new form of support with a view to ending the contracted Housing Related Support service by March 2022. The council will engage all sheltered housing residents to ensure they are able to access other means of support if they need it, and to ensure any potential social care needs are identified, assessed and met appropriately.
The proposals if agreed will include liaising with landlords and providers to support residents through a transition phase to:
- Access alternate means of housing related support from other existing tenant support services
- Ensure that residents receive appropriate information, advice and signposting as needed for any other identified support need
- Ensure that those who have, or who may have, eligible needs are identified, and appropriate care and support put in place.
Any work to support residents to access similar types of services during the transition will be completed at the end of the 2021/22 financial year.
Conservative Cllr Jane Davies, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care said:
We consulted with residents last year regarding Housing Related Support and we have found it is underused, and in some areas duplicating services which are already part of the housing management provided by our landlords. We know it is possible to be more efficient while still ensuring residents continue to be properly supported. We are now going out to residents again to discuss with them new options for accessing support for the future. This includes using existing tenant support services but also through enhancing links with the local community.
Residents who currently have a care support package will continue to receive this unchanged. I want to reassure all residents that we are open minded and we want them to be involved all the way as we work on the best possible options for the future. We know for some residents loneliness is a real factor and we want to actively work with our services and community partners to address that as part of this fresh approach to helping people live independently.
There are additional benefits derived by supporting sheltered residents via the community rather than commissioned services, in that it helps to build stronger communities, allowing residents to be more involved in their locality as well as the potential to mobilise sheltered accommodation resources to support the community.
Housing Related Support is discretionary and is currently delivered by Somerset Care and Cera Care (formerly Mears). Since COVID-19 this has largely been provided as a telephone service. The types of support someone receiving Housing Related Support may expect include managing the safety and security of their home, maintaining personal health and wellbeing and financial support. There is duplication of elements of the service with the tenant support service which is operated by the Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) who are obligated to provide these elements.