Housing support services

Introduction

Housing support services

Housing support services have developed over a number of years as an imaginative response to a wide range of needs. Housing support services should help people to live independently in the community, regardless of their tenure. Having and keeping a stable place to live is essential for many vulnerable people who want to stay in their own home.

At the moment, the largest group of people who receive housing support is older people living in sheltered housing. However, a wide range of people with particular needs can receive housing support services, including homeless people, refugees, women escaping domestic violence, people with a chronic illness, people with a physical impairment or learning disability, ex-offenders, people with drug and alcohol related problems, and others who need support. They may use these services when their accommodation is temporary (for example, in a crisis) or when they are being re-housed.

There is a wide range of supported accommodation models, including sheltered housing with 30 or 40 self-contained units of accommodation with on-site warden support, communal facilities and call systems; homeless hostels; group homes where people share accommodation supported by residential or visiting housing support workers; individual scattered or clustered dwellings with floating (flexible) support; and ‘wet houses’ for people with substance misuse problems.

At the moment, housing support services are provided or commissioned by a landlord as part of a tenancy agreement. Some services are delivered to people who live in accommodation that is registered with the local authority under the terms of their occupancy agreement. Housing support services can range from around one hour a week to 24-hour residential support.

What is housing support?

Housing support covers a range of activities that allow people to maintain their accommodation, meet their duties and responsibilities as a tenant and get involved in the local community. The range of services has been defined by the funding systems which support these activities, Housing Benefit, transitional Housing Benefit and Communities Scotland Special Needs Assistance Package (SNAP). For the purpose of funding, housing support has included advice on budgeting and debt management; assistance with benefit claims; maintaining the security of the dwelling; assisting with disputes with neighbours; and general counselling and advice.

New legislative framework

The Scottish Executive is going to introduce a new policy and funding framework which also covers, for the first time, regulation of housing support services. Section 91(8) of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2001 gives local authorities the power to fund housing support services that are provided for a person’s sole or main residence. This means that people living in owner- occupied housing will also be eligible. The regulations which are made under this section of the Housing Act will contain detailed definitions of housing support services. Section 2 (27) of the Regulation of Care (Scotland) Act 2001 provides for the regulation of these services.

Supporting People Grant

The new arrangements which will apply from April 2003 will introduce a new funding system for housing support services called the Supporting People Grant. This will replace current funding arrangements and will be administered by local authorities in partnership with other agencies. Under the new system anyone who needs it will get housing support, regardless of tenure. The support may be provided by the landlord, a housing support agency or specialist voluntary body, or by the local authority itself.

The national care standards

Scottish Ministers set up the National Care Standards Committee (NCSC) to develop national standards. The NCSC carried out this work with the help of a number of working groups. These groups included people who use services, their families and carers, along with staff, professional associations, regulators from health and social care, local authorities, health boards and independent providers. Many others were also involved in the consultation process.

As a result, the standards have been developed from the point of view of people who use the services. They describe what each individual person can expect from the service provider. They focus on the quality of life that the person using the service actually experiences.

The standards are grouped under headings which follow the person’s journey through the service. These are as follows.

Before using the service (standards 1 to 4)

  • 1 Informing and deciding
  • 2 Your legal rights
  • 3 Management and staffing arrangements
  • 4 Housing support planning

Using the service (standards 5 to 8)

  • 5 Lifestyle – social, cultural and religious belief or faith
  • 6 Choice and communication
  • 7 Exercising your rights
  • 8 Expressing your views

Choosing to leave or end the service (standard 9)

  • 9 Choosing to leave or end the service

Using the national care standards

If you are thinking about using housing support services, you will want to refer to the standards to help you decide. You may want to discuss the standards with:

  • your social worker or care manager, if you have one; or
  • someone acting on your behalf, for example, your lawyer or other independent representative.

If things go wrong, you can refer to the standards to help you raise concerns or make a complaint. (See ‘Expressing your views’, standard 8.)

Providers will use the standards to find out what is expected of them in offering housing support services. The standards make it clear that everything about the service should lead to you enjoying a good quality of life. They should guide the owner or manager over who to employ and how they should manage the service.

In a small number of cases, people may be subject to compulsory orders under The Mental Health (Scotland) Act 1984 or The Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000. These orders may affect the way in which some of the standards are delivered. If this affects you, then anything in the standards that has to be different, and the legal reasons for that difference, will be shown in your personal plan. It will be in line with the principles and legal requirements of the current legislation.

The principles behind the standards

The standards are based on a set of principles. The principles themselves are not standards but reflect the recognised rights which you enjoy as a citizen. These principles are the result of all the contributions made by the NCSC, its working groups and everyone else who responded to the consultations on the standards as they were being written. They recognise that services must be accessible and suitable for everyone who needs them, including people from black and ethnic minority communities. They reflect the strong agreement that your experience of receiving services is very important and should be positive, and that you have rights.

The main principles

The principles are dignity, privacy, choice, safety, realising potential and equality and diversity.

Dignity

Your right to:

  • be treated with dignity and respect at all times; and
  • enjoy a full range of social relationships.

Privacy

Your right to:

  • have your privacy and property respected, and to receive the time, the space and the facilities you need and want; and
  • be free from intrusion as long as it is safe for you and everyone else.

Choice

Your right to:

  • make informed choices, while recognising the rights of other people to do the same;
  • know about the range of choices; and
  • get help to fully understand all the options and choose the one that is right for you.

Safety

Your right to:

  • feel safe and secure in all aspects of life, including health and wellbeing;
  • enjoy safety but not be over-protected; and
  • be free from exploitation and abuse.

Realising potential

Your right to have the opportunity to:

  • achieve all you can;
  • make full use of the resources that are available to you; and
  • make the most of your life.

Equality and diversity

Your right to:

  • live an independent life, rich in purpose, meaning and personal fulfilment;
  • be valued for your ethnic background, language, culture, and faith;
  • be treated equally and to live in an environment which is free from bullying, harassment and discrimination; and
  • be able to complain effectively without fear of victimisation.

The Scottish Commission for the Regulation of Care

The Regulation of Care (Scotland) Act 2001 (‘the Act’) set up the Care Commission, which registers and inspects all the services regulated under the Act, taking account of the national care standards issued by Scottish Ministers. The Care Commission has its headquarters in Dundee, with regional offices across the country. It will assess applications from people who want to provide housing support services. It will inspect the services to make sure that they are meeting the regulations and in doing so will take account of the national care standards. You can find out more about the Care Commission and what it does from its website (www.carecommission.com).

The Scottish Social Services Council

The Act created the Scottish Social Services Council (‘the Council’) which was established on 1 October 2001. It also has its headquarters in Dundee. The Council has the duty of promoting high standards of conduct and practice among social services workers, and in their education and training. To deliver its overall aims of protecting service users and carers and securing the confidence of the public in social services, the Council has been given five main tasks. These are: to establish registers of key groups of social services staff; to publish codes of practice for all social services staff and their employers; to regulate the conduct of registered workers; to regulate the training and education of the workforce; to undertake the functions of the National Training Organisation for the Personal Social Services. The Council has issued codes of practice for social service workers and employers of social service workers. These describe the standards of conduct and practice within which they should work. The codes are available from the Council website (www.sssc.uk.com).

How standards and regulations work together

The Act gives Scottish Ministers the power to publish standards which the Care Commission must take into account when making its decisions. It also gives Scottish Ministers the power to make regulations imposing requirements in relation to housing support services.

The standards will be taken into account by the Care Commission in making any decision about applications for registration (including varying or removing a condition that may have been imposed on the registration of the service).

All providers must provide a statement of function and purpose when they are applying to register their service. On the basis of that statement, the Care Commission will determine which standards will apply to the service that the provider is offering.

The standards will be used to monitor the quality of services and their compliance with the Act and the regulations. If, at inspection, or at other times, for example, as a result of the Care Commission looking into a complaint, there are concerns about the service, the Care Commission will take the standards into account in any decision on whether to take enforcement action and what action to take.

If the standards were not being fully met, the Care Commission would note this in the inspection report and require the service manager to address this. The Care Commission could impose an additional condition on the service’s registration if the provider persistently, substantially or seriously failed to meet the standards or breached a regulation. If the provider does not then meet the condition, the Care Commission could issue an improvement notice detailing the required improvement to be made and the timescale for this. Alternatively, the Care Commission could move straight to an improvement notice. The Care Commission would move to cancel the registration of any service if the improvement notice does not achieve the desired result. In extreme cases (i.e. where there is serious risk to a person’s life, health or wellbeing) the Care Commission could take immediate steps to cancel the registration of any service without issuing an improvement notice. Regulations are mandatory. In some cases not meeting a regulation will be an offence. This means a provider may be subject to prosecution. Not meeting or breaching any regulation is a serious matter.

Decisions by the Care Commission on what to do when standards or regulations are not met will take into account all the relevant circumstances and be proportionate.

You can get information on these regulations from the Regulation of Care (Scotland) Act 2001, which is available from the Stationery Office Bookshop at a cost of £7.95 a copy. You can also see the Act on-line (see Annex B for the address).

You can also see the Scottish Statutory Instruments for the Regulation of Care Regulations 2002 on-line (see Annex B for the address).

Comments

If you would like to comment on these standards you can visit our website and send a message through our mailbox:

www.scotland.gov.uk/health/standardsandsponsorship

You can also contact us at:

Care Standards and Sponsorship Branch
Community Care Division
Health Department
St Andrew’s House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3AG

Tel: 0131 244 3520
Fax: 0131 244 4005

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