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The following information has been taken from the Local Account of Adult Social Services in Blackburn with Darwen.  The Local Account gives an overview of the range of social care services we have offered to local people during 2014/15, as well as our plans for 2015/16. To view the full Local Account document click here

Local Account - Housing choices

Everyone needs a place to call home.   Many adults can't live on their own without help and support from others. This may be because they have a physical or learning disability, mental health needs or because they are older or have become frail.  We aim to enable everyone to live in the community, on their own or with others, whatever their level of needs or disabilities.  

By law, the Council has to provide advice and support to people about homelessness.  This includes information on welfare benefits, household budgeting, managing debts and coping with drug or alcohol problems. 

We are also required to help families and individuals who are without a home or are threatened with eviction, but this can't be done on our own.  We work with housing associations, private landlords, the probation service and health to ensure that housing is fit for purpose, e.g. to avoid placing families in bed and breakfast hotels.  We also work hard to reduce the number of people who are sleeping rough.   

We find that young people are often the most vulnerable, especially those in care, along with people who have been released from prison, have a drug or alcohol addiction, or who have left their home due to domestic violence.

For people who do need support in a specialised setting such as residential homes, we work with service providers through our Quality Assurance Scheme to ensure that high standards are maintained.  

Spotlight on: Moorgate Mill

The Moorgate Mill development consists of Mill House and Moorgate Place and has been open since July 2014.

The Moorgate Mill development is based on the use of assistive technology as a core element of the care and support provided.  The scheme is the result of close and effective partnership working between Inclusion Housing, HB Villages, Lifeways and Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council.

Moorgate Mill has been recognised at the 'Laing Buisson Independent Specialist Care Awards 2015' in two categories - 'Best commissioner' and 'Best independent specialist care provider'.

The model of care at Moorgate Mill enables people with a wide range of often complex needs, to live independently and access the support they need. Each tenant has their own self-contained flat, which has been built to take account of any mobility issues, and incorporates design features which promote independence and wellbeing.  Assistive technology has been installed for each tenant on the basis of their needs. It is used to enable staff to support people when they want and need it, but with an enhanced degree of privacy and dignity.

It is expected that the investment in assistive technology will lead to a reduction in unplanned hospital admissions and promote independence. It is also expected that assistive technology will reduce long term care costs.

Alison Westwood, Complex Case Manager in Adult Services made it through to the finals in the 'Independent Specialist Care Awards 2015'.  Alison was been nominated for an award in the 'Best Commissioner' category for her work on the Moorgate Mill housing project.  Alison helped to lead the Moorgate Mill project, including developing the services on offer, recruiting staff and helping to chair the nominations panel for people applying for a home there.

Achievements 2014/15

-The Homeless Strategy Action Plan is now being delivered. Specialist Housing projects are receiving priority.

- Funding has been obtained for 5 flats to house victims of domestic violence as part of the homeless strategy action plan.

- The Decent and Safe Homes (DASH) housing and health plan is being jointly implemented by the Council and NHS.

- Social workers and colleagues are working to identify and support individuals to move into more appropriate accommodation when needed, as well as find new friends and social activities.

Challenges 

- There is a problem with houses of multiple occupancy in the borough.  These houses tend to be used by very vulnerable people, for example drug addicts, alcoholics and those out of prison.  The support they receive is not always adequate, and we use all the powers we have to push landlords to improve.  As part of 'Making Every Adult Matter', in-reach work is being undertaken by Child Action North West to engage with residents.

- Further cuts to welfare benefits will mean that many vulnerable people may not be able to afford their rent placing additional pressure on the Housing Needs service.   

Priorities 2015/2016 and beyond  

- Building work at the Shorey Bank extra care housing scheme will commence in 2016.  The scheme is due to open in 2018.

- Development of a new specialist autism housing scheme.

- Deliver the health and housing joint plan in partnership with the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). 

- Delivery of the homelessness action plan and development of supported housing schemes.

In focus: Decent and Safe Homes (DASH) Hospital In-Reach Service

Decent and Safe Homes (DASH) provide a Hospital In-Reach Service at the Royal Blackburn Hospital, visiting wards to offer DASH services to patients once they are discharged from hospital. During one of these visits the DASH Liaison Officer met 'Mr L'.  Mr L is in his 70s and suffers from COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder) along with other chronic illnesses. He had been admitted into hospital on a regular basis and was feeling depressed.

A DASH Liaison Officer visited Mr L at home and discovered that he was finding it difficult to cope in a variety of ways. His home was very cold due to struggling to pay fuel bills.  This was having a negative impact on Mr L's health. His home was cluttered making it very difficult for him to move around safely.  The Liaison Officer was concerned about the hazards inside the property, not just in terms of trips and falls but from a fire safety point of view.

Mr L said he wanted to move into a smaller, more affordable property but felt overwhelmed when he thought about what he needed to do to achieve this. As the Liaison Officer was leaving Mr L almost fell down a step at his front door which was very uneven.

During the visit the Liaison Officer discussed the options available to Mr L to move to a more manageable and affordable home. A referral was made to the DASH handyperson service to repair the front doorstep and to Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service requesting a Fire Safety Home visit.

Mr L showed the Liaison Officer his energy bills. He feared he was in debt which was the reason why he wasn't using his heating. This wasn't the case. Once we had explained his bills to him and helped him to understand that he was not in debt he felt more confident to keep his home warm.

Mr L has visited his GP and has been prescribed medication that has lifted his mood.  He has contacted local charities and donated many of his unwanted items. This has enabled him to clear his property making it more attractive to potential purchasers and the property is now for sale. Mr L has taken on-board the housing advice he was given and has now registered with a social housing letting agency. 

Local account - Housing