Housing advice service
The Housing Advice Service ensures that service users with an identified accommodation need, before or during admission, are screened. In collaboration with the care co-ordinator and the multi-disciplinary team, accommodation options are identified and additional complex discharge issues identified in order to alert relevant staff in inpatient and community settings.
The service is an integral part of inpatient service provision, looking forward and anticipating the discharge plan for inpatients with accommodation needs. The service maintains close relationships with community teams and housing providers.
Housing Advisors are based at each inpatient site with support from a dedicated housing advice support worker, and maintain close links with the multi-disciplinary team and service users to reach a consensus around the accommodation and support needs of each person.
The Housing Advice Service operates on the two inpatient sites located within the boundaries of Manchester and is available to all inpatients of adult working age who have accommodation needs during their inpatient episode.
An integrated approach is maintained with Community Mental Health, Assertive Outreach and Early Intervention teams. For those service users with specific physical/cognitive health needs links are also maintained with social services, mental health rehabilitation services and other secondary care specialist services, namely substance misuse services and learning disabilities.
The service also maintains and promotes relationships with the independent and third sectors and with the Department of Work and Pensions where applicable. Additionally, the service works closely with court liaison and probation services.
The team work with homeless services in order to avoid where ever possible a homeless presentation. It is through close links with street homeless support agencies, temporary accommodation and frontline hostels that the housing advisors are able to navigate a pathway to a more stable housing situation for the service user.
As soon as the accommodation need is identified and the patient has the capacity to express their needs and aspirations, an initial assessment is carried out by the housing advisor. As part of the admission/discharge pathway, the housing advisor will always liaise with the care co-ordinator. Written consent is obtained from the service user so that the housing advisor can liaise with principle carers and external agencies. Discussions then take place with the multi-disciplinary team in order to reach a consensus on support needs and potential discharge plans. The housing advisor will then request assessments relevant to housing needs and the plan will be reviewed with the service user to enable them to make informed choices.
Referrals to housing and support services are made and visits to accommodation arranged, and assessments and interviews set up with housing providers. The housing advisor will assist in the resettlement process, for example by completing community care grants and referring the service user to tenancy support services.
Throughout this process the Housing Advice Service has an important reporting role in updating the ward team on the progress of the resettlement process and of any potential obstacles that may delay discharge
The Housing Advice Service is an established team not only within inpatient services, but also as a resettlement service for the vulnerably housed and potentially homeless population within the boundaries of Manchester. The service is dependent on joint working and building networks with external agencies and promotes multi-agency working in order to formulate discharge plans which are sustainable and prevent or delay re-admissions to inpatient care.
The discharge planning approach is fundamental to preventing homelessness and ensures that the S117 aftercare provisions are delivered. This can only happen when appropriate and stable accommodation is secured for inpatients.