Transforming Care services can improve the lives of people with learning disabilities, autism and behaviours that challenge, while saving public money, a report launched today by specialist housing provider Look Ahead has demonstrated.
The independent evaluation of Look Ahead’s award-winning Nimrod House supported living scheme in East London, conducted by HACT, found that, with the right collaboration, resources and vision, it is possible for individuals to make a successful transition from secure hospitals to community-based settings. Nimrod House, funded by Newham Clinical Commissioning Group and the London Borough of Newham, and developed and delivered by Look Ahead, has been running since 2016. Before moving to the service, many customers had been in in-patient units for several years – now they are living more fulfilling lives in the community closer to their families.
Meanwhile, the care, support and accommodation they receive at Nimrod House saves the NHS money, with the cost of one customer’s placement being 24% lower than a typical in-patient placement for this cohort, representing a potential annual saving of more than £70,000 to the CCG.
These findings come at a crucial time for the government and NHS England’s Transforming Care programme, which aimed to close between 35% and 50% of in-patient beds by March 2019, through the development of community services that meet the needs of people with learning disabilities and/or autism. Only around 20% of beds have been closed, and in January 2019, the NHS published its Long Term Plan, which postponed the ambition to halve the number of people in institutional care, pushing the deadline back to March 2023/24.
The study found there were a number of pre-requisites needed for effective Transforming Care services. These include an investment in the physical environment, tackling mistrust between clinicians and social care professionals, a focus on staff skills and training, a shared approach to risk-taking, and regulatory innovation.
Chris Hampson, Chief Executive of Look Ahead, said: “We must not lose momentum around Transforming Care. March’s missed deadline cannot signal the end of the emphasis on enabling individuals to thrive in community settings.
“At Nimrod House, we’ve been able to prove that, through the NHS and support providers working more closely together, we can deliver high quality, credible alternatives to secure settings. We’ve produced this report in order to share our experiences with others, and to spark a conversation around how to successfully move forward.”
Norman Lamb, MP and former Minister of State for Care and Support commented: “This report highlights how people’s lives can truly be changed for the better when the Transforming Care programme is embraced and effectively put into action. It also reminds us of the stark lack of progress that the Government has made on ending inappropriate institutional care. It is a travesty that so many people are still condemned to institutional care when evidence demonstrates that alternatives like Nimrod House allow these people to lead full and fulfilling lives within their local communities.
“The individuals still stuck in inappropriate in-patient settings, and their families, need and deserve action, rather than delayed targets and missed opportunities. They must not be treated as second class citizens. They are equal citizens.
“The work undertaken by Look Ahead should be a catalyst for change; I urge the Government to revisit the postponed targets and provide the appropriate funding and support to make settings like Nimrod House the norm rather than the exception.”
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