‘Home from hospital’ scheme shortlisted for National Housing Award

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A ground-breaking ‘home from hospital’ scheme managed by Horton Housing Association has been shortlisted in the UK Housing Awards (UKHA).

Bradford Respite and Integrated Care and Support Service (BRICSS) is an innovative new scheme which prevents ‘bed blocking’ by providing high-quality accommodation for people who are being discharged from hospital and who are homeless or living in inadequate housing.

Run in partnership with Bevan Healthcare CIC, the scheme is one of the first of its kind in the country and has since been adopted as a pilot for other areas.

Bradford has a significant homeless population which is a disproportionate user of acute health care services. Homeless people are six times more likely to access healthcare through Accident and Emergency departments and their length of stay in hospital is likely to be three times as long – an average of 6.2 days compared to 2.1 days.

Having no home to go to, or only poor quality housing, is a key factor in delaying discharge from hospital. Without somewhere suitable to go, clients are either stuck in hospital or will be quickly re-admitted as they are not able to recover at home. One of our clients spent almost a year (333 days) in hospital because discharge was proving impossible due to her complex needs.

The 14 bed respite and intermediate care facility comprises housing, clinical and social care offered in partnership with Bevan Healthcare CIC, which provides holistic primary care services for homeless people and other vulnerable groups. While at BRICSS, clients can also access intensive GP, nursing and mental health nursing care and other services which can help them address any barriers to accessing suitable housing, for example drug and alcohol support, organising personal and social care, benefits advice and debt management, managing mental health issues and getting help with issues such as financial, sexual, emotional and physical abuse. Clients are assisted to move on to more suitable longer-term tenancies or accommodation, where appropriate.

The BRICSS scheme is a key part of an innovative response to the health and housing needs of homeless people in Bradford. It links in with specialist teams in hospital, primary care and community settings to provide a new integrated approach to improve health and wellbeing.

The scheme was shortlisted in the prestigious UK Housing Awards, in the ‘Meeting Specialist Housing Needs’ category. The awards, which recognise outstanding work by housing organisations to improve the lives of people in their communities, are organised by the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) and Inside Housing magazine. The awards are sponsored by Campbell Tickell, Capsticks, CHAS, Higgins, The Housing Contact, ISOS, Locality Solutions and NHBC.

Chief Executive Officer for Horton Housing, Paul Gartland, said:

“I am delighted that our pioneering work has received this recognition. We faced tough competition from some fantastic schemes across the country and while we didn’t win the overall award, it was a real achievement to be shortlisted.

“This scheme saves lives. It provides a lifeline for people who would otherwise be trying to recover from serious illness in poor quality housing, or out on the streets, increasing their likelihood of readmission and deteriorating health.

“While clients spend time in BRICSS, we work with them to address any issues that may prevent them going into more suitable accommodation. By providing this tailored support, we save thousands of pounds of money which would otherwise be spent on lengthy hospital stays.”

The service was set up in December 2013 following a successful bid for funding from the Department of Health’s Homeless Hospital Discharge fund. This one-off funding helped to pay for the building, close to Bradford city centre, and some of the initial running costs. The rest of the funding comes through rent for the housing element of the service and health input funded by Bradford City and Bradford District CCGs.

An independent report, conducted by the York Health Economics Consortium (YHEC) found that for every £1 invested, the cost of the benefits gained amounted to between £2 and £4.

Andy Lephard, Medical Director for Bevan Healthcare CIC, said: “The shortlisting for this award highlights a scheme where housing, health and social care are truly working together to change lives.

BRICSS is supporting people suffering from a huge range of serious health problems to make real progress; providing a vital alternative to prolonged hospital stay or discharge onto the streets.”

CIH interim chief executive Gavin Smart said: “The UK Housing Awards recognise the great work being done by housing professionals and organisations across the industry, but they also push us all to do better as a sector. We hope the achievements of our finalists will inspire others as they aim to provide the best possible services for residents and communities.

Emma Maier, editor of Inside Housing, said: “The quality of the entries rose again this year so even to get this far is an amazing achievement. In the face of some really stiff competition, Horton Housing has shown it is performing at the highest level – well done!

You can find out more information about the awards at https://www.insidehousing.co.uk/events/awards/uk-housing-awards