‘I feel the most stable’: supported housing for people with mental illness

A case study from Bolton at Home shows how housing associations can support young people with severe mental illness and avoid inpatient re-admittance.

Bolton at Home provides both housing and support to maintain a tenancy for at-risk patients.

A young woman who had experienced sexual trauma had been repeatedly detained under the Mental Health Act, resulting in long-term admissions which negatively impacted her ability to live independently. She did not meet the criteria for young person housing provisions due to risk and described feeling unwanted and uncared for. The lack of stability also left her lacking trust in professionals and vulnerability to extortion.

While she was still in hospital, the Bolton at Home service assessed her and agreed a plan for discharge, as they felt her distress and risk were increasing whilst being an inpatient. They collectively agreed contingency plans to structure the transition from a clinical to community setting and these were reviewed regularly. Partnership working here was key to the success of the transition, from internal teams, tradespeople and clinical professionals.

Bolton at Home identified a suitable area and home, which was decorated, carpeted, and furnished with essential items.

A kitchen

On sign-up day the client was anxious and the team reassured her by talking through the steps and reminding her that the property would be a safe space for her. The team also helped the client to remember to check ID of visiting professionals, and that she could choose whether to invite people in.

Bolton at Home provide support under delayed transfer of care, community mental health teams and Greater Manchester mental health and as a result she has successfully maintained the tenancy and her finances. Having a home with responsive and structured support provided an alternative to compulsory admission which increased chances of recovery and independence and reduced inpatient length of stay.

She said: “I feel the most stable I have ever been in my entire life. I feel grounded and proud. You believe in me and that makes me believe in myself.”

Many housing associations are working in partnership with healthcare providers and we believe that every decision about care should be a decision about housing.

Who to speak to

Ewan Fulford