Somerset County Council currently commissions a Housing Related Support Service in Sheltered Housing. Support is provided to people with higher level support needs which might otherwise make it problematic for them to remain in their sheltered flat or bungalow. Most housing providers and landlords already provide a self-funded baseline support service to people, which offer a varied level of support to people.
The County Council funded services were commissioned under the prevention agenda, to support people from entering into the need for formal adult social care interventions.
The service helps these tenants to manage correspondence; help to pay bills or manage the household budget; help to arrange appointments and help to plan shopping or meals, the service is specifically focused for people that need help with these tasks with a short term focus. Some people don’t need this support on a regular basis, but may benefit from a visit to check all is well and to see if any help is needed. A number of things sit outside of the funding that the county council providers, for example, alarms systems or the emergency response service and tenancy support, which is either paid for through rents or directly by the tenant.
The current contracts for support in sheltered housing schemes expire during October 2018. Section 138 of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 imposes a duty on all local authorities to involve local people when carrying out “any of its functions” by providing information, consulting or “involving in another way”.
Somerset County Council have now completed their initial involvement work which commenced in February 2018 and involved SCC working with housing providers, service users and other key stakeholder to come up with a preferred option for the future. This involvement exercise involved workshops all over Somerset over a two week period.
As a result of the involvement exercise the following three key themes were raised;
• Tenants were willing to consider alternative models of delivery as to how they receive their support service on the assumption a service would still be available.
• Tenants voiced concerns around losing their “wardens” as they deemed these members of staff vital and imperative for a sustained quality of life.
• In the majority tenants were happy to pay an additional charge to their housing providers to ensure the current service continued alongside the possibilities of an alternative model of delivery.
Following the involvement phase and the feedback received Somerset County Council are therefore proposing to stop the contribution of funding to the sheltered housing providers and reinvest into other more equitable services where the funding will support everyone and not just those in Sheltered Housing. One of the services Somerset County Council will look to invest in is the Community Connect model, which will help to ensure the support is available to everyone and not just those living in sheltered housing. Community Connect is a partnership between local community organisations, Somerset County Council’s Adult Social Care service and health services. It provides support and advice to help anyone live as independently as possible, for as long as possible, in their own community. Those with a high level of need that currently receive the support within their Sheltered Housing environment will still get the help they require but instead of it coming from the Housing Providers it will come from the Community Connect Village Agents.
However, even though Somerset County Council may have a preferred option they still want to consult with others to ensure any redesigns to the service and changes to current funding has taken into account everyone views and opinions. Therefore Somerset County Council will be undertaking a Consultation phase between the 3rd April – 30th May across Somerset at Sheltered Housing schemes and local Libraries to give everyone an opportunity to have their say. You will be able to access the consultation and have your say online from the 3rd April at: www.somerset.gov.uk/shelteredhousingconsultation
If you would like to request this document in an alternative format please contact Somerset County Council at ShelteredhousingService@Somerset.gov.uk 0300 123 2224 on select “option 4” then “option 3”.