Updated: Feb 3
Hello, and welcome to my latest blog.
It seems an age since the country, if not the world, was locked down as the coronavirus spread across the globe.
My last blog was at the beginning of lockdown and focused more on how the pandemic had affected the delivery of the programme.
So in this blog, I want to focus on how service delivery is adapting to the new operating climate and all the work that has been going on around transition planning to support the pilot out of lockdown.
I mentioned in my last blog that just as lockdown restrictions were implemented we were planning a big joint recruitment drive across the partnership which as a result was postponed.
I’m pleased to be able to update now that we have in fact been able to facilitate this virtually and managed to stay true to our original plans with the co-production panel who are people with lived experience of services and/or homelessness leading independently the stage one values based stage.
This was no easy feat as it saw over 50 candidates be interviewed over four days using Zoom to facilitate.
We ensured that the panel had the technology and training needed to manage this process and feedback has been really positive albeit with a few initial technical issues.
I want to thank Creative Inclusion who led this process and all members of the panel that were involved. Each individual delivery partner then facilitated stage two panel interviews virtually where they looked more at skills and competencies.
The whole recruitment drive has been a real success and we have managed to successfully appoint to nearly all of the 20 vacancies!
We are planning for all these new staff to join the partnership at the end of July for a robust induction week of co-designed and co-delivered virtual training – I look forward to welcoming all the new faces then.
Greater Manchester Mental Health Trust is also currently recruiting an additional two Dual Diagnosis Practitioners to join the existing two and enhance this specialist intervention as part of delivery across Greater Manchester.
With these new staff in place, it will enable us to take on new referrals to the programme which we have not been able to yet this delivery year due to the need to maintain fidelity to the Housing First model with staff caseloads not exceeding more than seven people.
We are also planning to frontload the referrals in year two taking the majority from August until the end of the year in order to support with Local Authority recovery planning.
We have also recently undertaken a review of the referral process in year one to identify areas where this can be improved for year two and provided recommendations to develop the process and ensure the people who would benefit most from the intervention are being put forward.
New people coming onto the programme will also mean an increased need for accommodation, which will be a challenge due to the current demand on housing following COVID-19 and the need to not have anyone returning to the streets.
We will be working closely with Greater Manchester Housing Providers and the Ethical Lettings Agency to ensure the required property pipeline is there and as part of this work we have reviewed the accommodation process from year one to stream line and ensure it is as effective as it can be.
During my last blog, I wrote about the impact of the pandemic on support delivery resulting in this being predominately delivered over telephone with essential face to face support still being provided by all delivery partners.
As Government restrictions are easing, it means we can do more in terms of support and I have been working with delivery partners to review what our offer can be moving forward and to see how we can safely now start to deliver more face to face support, which is planned by the end of June.
Housing First is individually tailored anyway and what can be provided safely in terms of support will be individually risk assessed and based on what the individual wants and needs.
Finally I facilitated a topic session for Great Places board last week that focused on key achievements/ challenges and lessons learned from the first year of delivery.
This was really well received and all members were engaged with the session and provided positive feedback as to all that had been achieved in a year.
It provided a great opportunity for me to reflect, as often due the fast pace nature of the programme and the need to continually look forward and develop you sometimes don’t get the chance to just sit still and look back on what has been achieved.
it is quite remarkable a big partnership involving eight different organisations has been pulled together and been delivering across Greater Manchester with 103 people supported into permanent homes of their own by the end of the year.
I can’t quite believe all that has been implemented and all involved should be incredibly proud, we now look forward to scaling up delivery in this new operating context and to support more people into homes of their own.