The landscape of housing and social care is changing fast.
Demand for housing to meet a variety of social needs is growing
against a backdrop which includes the advent of Supporting People,
people with learning difficulties clamouring for more independence
through having their own homes, and the loss of more than 20,000
places in residential care for older people over the last two
years. Government policy has focused increasingly on choice and
independence, more intermediate care and better rehabilitation
services offered through health, social care and housing
partnerships, more extra care housing in partnership with housing
associations, and more intensive home-based support. Initiatives
such as the National Service Frameworks for Older People and for
bed-blocking fines, the Valuing People white paper, and the
Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000 are forcing social care agencies
to think much more constructively about the housing needs of their
clients. The risk is that “choice” means only choice for the well
off while “independence” means isolation. The challenge facing
agencies is that neither of these will do: choice must be choice
for all and independence must mean having control over your own
life with the means to achieve it. As professor Gerald Wistow once
put it, people acquire “independence through interdependence”.
Here, we look at the various ways in which agencies are rising to
the challenges that confront them.