Housing service launched to help hospital patients return home
News release issued on 28 November 2016
Three councils in Kent have introduced an innovative hospital-based housing service in an effort to help patients ready for discharge return home more quickly.
Sevenoaks District Council, Tunbridge Wells Borough Council and Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council worked together to implement this ground breaking referral scheme to enable patients access to services that will help them live independently in their own homes, including a full assessment of the home environment, healthy living advice, home adaptions and Disabled Facility Grants.
The service is based at Pembury Hospital, Tunbridge Wells, which serves a substantial population in West Kent and extends to West Kent residents accommodated in any hospital across Kent. A Housing and Health Co-ordinator and handyperson will work directly with patients to identify and overcome obstacles preventing immediate hospital discharge.
By being located in Tunbridge Wells Hospital, the handyperson can react quickly to carry out small but essential home repairs to ensure patients are home as soon as possible. They can also carry out small repairs to prevent falls in and around the home reducing the need to be readmitted into hospital.
Sevenoaks District Council introduced a forerunner to the service in Sevenoaks Hospital in July 2016 when patients could access housing standards, healthy living advice and information about Disabled Facility Grants.
Cllr Michelle Lowe, Sevenoaks District Council's Cabinet Member for Housing and Health, says: "We know that too many patients, who are ready to leave the hospital, face serious delay as their homes may no longer be suitable for their needs or cannot access the services they need. But by giving them access to a rapid response handyperson and then access to home adaptions and other housing services, we may be able to help them leave hospital sooner and prevent future admissions.
"This is obviously good news for patients as they do not want to send any more time in hospital than is absolutely necessary. But it's also good news for the NHS as this will help reduce the historic problem of bed blocking. This is the latest example of how councils are working more creatively and closely with the NHS to help people improve their health while saving tax payers' money."
Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council's Cabinet Member for Housing, Cllr Sophie Shrubsole, adds: "We are delighted to announce this worthwhile initiative which has come about through partnership working and will make a significant difference to our residents in hospital. We hope that by working directly with patients we can overcome obstacles preventing hospital discharge so they can return home as quickly as possible. In turn this will give residents greater peace of mind that their homes will be better equipped to keep them mobile and able to live independent lives for as long as possible."
Cllr Lynne Weatherly, Tunbridge Wells Borough Council's Cabinet Member for Communities and Wellbeing, says: "I am very pleased we're working with our neighbouring councils and the NHS on such an important and very practical initiative which will help get people out of hospital and back in to the familiar environment of their own home as soon as possible. Having the service based in the hospital means a quick response to what the patient needs which is a better result for everyone."
The service started on Monday 7 November 2016 for a nine month trial and is being run by Family Mosaic on behalf of the three councils.
The service is being partially funded via an element of the Better Care Fund, a collaboration between the NHS and local government to improve the lives of some of the most vulnerable people by integrating health and housing service.