Addressing serious housing issues

In Lincolnshire we recognise the importance a home can have on the long term health and wellbeing of a person. A home is central to a person’s life. It is particularly important for vulnerable groups, such as young people leaving care, disabled and older people.

Increasing numbers of disabled and older people are living alone, especially in later life. The ability to get in and out of the home, move around inside, access the bathroom, receive friends, cook and go to bed has a significant effect on people’s dignity, independence and wellbeing.

Addressing serious housing issues can be a cost effective way to reduce some of the financial burdens on our health and social care services.

Integration of Housing within Health and Social Care

We have worked hard in Lincolnshire on the integration of Housing within Health and Social Care. A large part of this work has been the creation of a Lincolnshire Housing, Health and Care Delivery Group. The group brings together people from the county council, district councils, the NHS, Department for Work and Pensions, and a local housing organisation. The representatives from the councils include both political members and officers. The group is responsible for the Housing and Health Joint Strategic Needs Assessment topic, which is one of only fourteen in England. Also, the group is responsible for the Lincolnshire Health and Wellbeing Board Housing Priority Delivery Plan, which includes actions around tackling homelessness across the county, address poor standards of housing and address housing related delayed transfers of care.

Through the Housing, Health and Care Delivery Group, another new group has been brought together called Moving Forward with DFGs. It includes Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) leads from all seven district councils, the Occupational Therapy (OT) leads for Children’s and Adult Services, and Public Health. The aim of the group is to make sure the County Council, all district councils, and OTs work as one to deliver the outcomes of the Better Care Fund, as well as modernise and improve the current DFG process.

DFG referrals

Already, the group has completed a number of things, including a countywide framework for the allocation of works to contractors that includes a countywide schedule of rates. This will hopefully make sure adaptations are made much more quickly, as the process will be much shorter.

The DFG referrals are now collected in a countywide, shared software system, which has helped OTs to monitor the process of DFGs. There is also a way to report and monitor specific DFG outcomes, and this has not been possible before.

Consistency to the policies

To help with the processing of DFG referrals by Lincolnshire County Council Adult Social Care, seven new Community Care Officer (CCO) posts have been introduced with a specific focus on assessing for DFGs. The district councils have been actively involved with the recruitment and interviewing to these new roles and once they are recruited it is envisaged this will reduce the wait time for OT assessments that result in a DFG.

As part of our strengthened relationships, which we have talked about further up, we have written and adopted a Lincolnshire Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). It is based on the national Housing and Health MoU and is recommended as being best practice. Also, there is a shared agreement to review each of the seven District Councils Housing Assistance Policies. They all include different discretionary grants. The aim is to bring consistency to the policies across all of the districts.

The Kings Fund has requested we speak at a national conference about our achievements to date. Other areas are approaching us for advice and guidance, to look at what we have done and how.

We are keen to continue learning, and do not take the steps forward we have made for granted. We know there is still a lot more to do but believe we have the structure in place through the Housing Health and Care Delivery Group to continue to improve our ways of working and ultimately improve the lives of vulnerable people throughout Lincolnshire.