Homes at the Heart: Celebrating Living Well

At Onward we believe that everyone deserves a home to call their own. That’s why we’re supporting the National Housing Federation’s Homes at the Heart campaign, calling for a once-in-a-generation investment into social housing.

This week’s theme ‘Living Well’  is all about sheltered and supported housing,  focusing on the vital role providers play in preserving independence and better outcomes for vulnerable people.

As part of the series we caught up with Isobel Godwin, Older Person’s Wellbeing Manager on how Onward is making a positive difference , the challenges of the sector, how we have responded, and the support provided to customers during the covid crisis.

Keep your eyes peeled for more stories, and guest blogs on supported housing later this week…

Sheltered housing and extra care

Sheltered Housing provides self-contained homes for older people (usually in a bungalow or flat). This enables residents to remain independent in their own home for longer, with on-site support and assistance through a dedicated scheme manager and a 24/7 pendant alarm.

Onward currently has 4,000 sheltered properties under its ownership, with four extra care schemes and two more in development. These provide higher level support with additional care staff and tailored social care packages, for those with more complex needs.

Why do we need sheltered and supported housing?

It’s currently estimated only 5% of older people live in accommodation appropriate to their needs. It is a constant challenge to be able to provide accommodation for people who have additional needs in the right place and at the right time.

People are often in health or housing crisis before moving to sheltered and extra care accommodation. They may not even have considered it as a housing option before.

However, making the move to the secure environment of the scheme offers level access accommodation, their own front door and support from a scheme manager. We often see our customers flourish in confidence, their health and wellbeing improve, and the adoption of more active lives than they did before.

How we work

During the last five months, the Covid pandemic has brought challenges due to strict scheme restrictions for the safety of our vulnerable customers.

Scheme Managers initially moved to work from home as much as possible, contacting all residents daily to check in on their welfare and offer practical and emotional support, some of whom had suffered depression and anxiety due to the isolation caused by the lockdown.

Our Scheme Managers provided a range of support, helping customers with shopping and food parcels, medication deliveries, appointments and keeping families informed and connected.

Our Older Persons Wellbeing team in normal times focus on reducing isolation by delivering group activities. However, they have quickly adapted their ways of working to keep residents engaged and active remotely. They’ve been running weekly quizzes, competitions, art workshops and socially distanced activities which have been well received by our customers during what has been a difficult time.

Scheme managers are now back to working from schemes and starting to create Covid-safe communal spaces for our customers to enjoy, as we adapt to the ‘new normal’.

What we’ve learnt

The past few months has been challenging, however we have become a stronger and closer team for what we have experienced, and our customers know that we have done our very best to keep them safe.

The Covid pandemic has actually demonstrated the huge value and positive impact specialist housing and our older persons service can have on our customers’ health and wellbeing.

For more information on our sheltered and supported schemes and independent living accommodation give us a call on 0300 555 0600 or find more information here

find out more onward homse