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Housing Manager in transition - 4
8/27/2013 11:42:07 PM
As a generalisation you can assert that the vast majority of middle aged and elderly adults with a learning disability or enduring mental illness will have been rehoused from the former institutions, and will now be living, and we hope, enjoying life in well run residential care or supported living of some description.
In my role as housing manager I have noticed that an increasing proportion of referrals are either for younger adults leaving home or special needs college, or for adults who display challenging behaviour.  The sector needs to deploy our younger staff for at least some of the support hours for the former and acquire new skills or partners in challenging behaviour for the latter.
Housing and support providers need to have good information about ex offenders (what exactly was the offence, could it happen again, what will the impact be if it does), about people who lash out at staff or who bite others. Anything is possible, but you must be honest about the skills of your staff and risk assess the likely impact on neighbours, many of whom may be very vulnerable people too, for whom you have a duty of care.
How much expertise will be provided by partner and statutory agencies to support an individual in the community, and how much will the provider be expected to cope on their own? Sometimes providers have to be tough and say, ‘the package of support is not enough to cope with this individual; we will not take this on’.
Failure to be honest about the ability to cope can have dire consequences, despite your void KPIs pressures. Partnership working is vital. Supporting the challenging individual in their new home should be a team effort.
Housing Manager in transition -3
7/27/2013 11:43:44 PM
To recap on my time as a PCT capital programme manager, I co-ordinated the moves of 62 adults with learning disabilities from institutions to modern, self contained accommodation, personalising the design of bathrooms and kitchens.
I needed project management skills to deliver the outcomes of improved, tailored accommodation, through new build and refurbished properties, with help of a £10M capital budget.
The idea of supported living being all for the best, was not always easy for ‘stakeholders’, including relatives, to accept, when the thought of their loved one living alone in their flat, rather in a communal setting, caused fear. ‘Your brother, sister, son, daughter will have their own support team, focussed on doing things that they want to do’, I would explain
I also learnt about the workings of NHS and County Council at senior commissioner levels, and I worked with a wide range of professionals:
·         Care Managers; Occupational Therapists; Speech therapists; visual impairment advisors; psychologists; housing association development managers, architects, Quantity Surveyors; advocates.
However, a central moment of my time came when, taking the prospective tenants round their new accommodation as part of a planned visit, one of the tenants asked me:
‘Simon, I don’t like it here, I don’t have to live here do I? (we had just spent a considerable sum on tailoring the flat to this tenant’s needs) – ‘I do have a choice, don’t I Simon?’ After a pause I replied: ‘Of course you have choices, and if you don’t want to live here, you don’t have to’.
Housing Manager in transition - 2
6/15/2013 12:21:17 AM
14th June 2013
I chaired a sub regional task group on Wednesday whose brief was to describe a transparent Housing Pathway for young adults with learning disabilities with challenging behaviour. There is a lack of clear advice for young adults, their parents and support network, on the key steps to access housing and support. A number of key ‘gates’ emerged: the social care assessment, joining the housing register and referral to the local supported housing panel.
A parent on the task group stressed how important this advice was as early as possible i.e. at the age of 12-14. That is the age that some parents have to decide that their child’s needs will be better met at a residential school rather than at home. What a painful decision for any parent to take.  Parents and advocates currently see the housing and social care systems as a difficult maze not a clear pathway.
I am receiving frequent requests for advice on housing and support from care managers and parents where an existing arrangement has broken down (e.g. the young person has fallen in with a bad crowd in the locality or the current care provider has been suspended because of an adverse safeguarding finding). It is critical that the next move is successful for their wellbeing, and that means putting organisational needs (including  void targets!) to one side, instead focussing ‘ruthlessly ‘on the individual’s needs.
Housing Manager in transition
6/11/2013 10:29:19 PM
I have decided to start a weekly blog. Not sure who will be interested, but I am interested in describing my journey, started 4 years ago, taking my housing ’offer’ from mainstream housing into the world of social care.
This transition all started so promisingly. My first housing role in the world of social care was providing housing solutions, on behalf of a PCT, for adults with learning disabilities living in unsatisfactory accommodation. I had influence as capital programme project manager, i.e. the capital backing of a PCT with the determination to rehouse 62 individuals within 2 years. My main delivery partners were housing associations, some large mainstream others were the non registered housing arms of social care providers.
I soon learnt that traditional housing management, of the type espoused by the large mainstream housing associations, and the type I had learnt over the past 30 years, was not enough. I realised I had to change the tools in my toolbox. Top quartile KPIs, policy on repairs timescales and responsibilities, value for money strategy, recharging for tenant’s damage - seemed inadequate when responding to the housing needs of people with profound learning and physical disabilities. Question: Which of my traditional housing skills did I value the most? Answer: tenant consultation, improving services continuously, identifying and meeting housing needs, property adaptations, treating people as individuals with unique needs and wants.

Over the coming weeks I will be describing my experience of working as a housing manager in the social care sector - my achievements, challenges, lessons, highs and lows.
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