Lack of housing keeps mental health patients in hospital for more than a year

People with mental health problems often have to wait for more
than a year before they can leave hospital and go into supported
housing, writes Katie Leason.

A report based on 18 housing projects in three London boroughs
reveals that most of the residents came into supported housing from
hospital. A third of residents had to wait up to six months to be
allocated while more than half had to wait for at least a year.

The report, ‘Getting a Move On’, was produced jointly by the
Greater London Authority, the Association of London Government, the
Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health and Advocacy Really Works.

In two boroughs, staff reported significant numbers of people in
hospital waiting for accommodation, with some people being placed
in housing outside the borough because of a shortage of suitable
housing locally.

Delays were attributed to gaps in provision, particularly for
people with specific needs, such as those with dual diagnosis or a
forensic history, and those requiring single sex accommodation.

Most of the residents interviewed had found their accommodation
through their social worker, community psychiatric nurse or key
worker. While the residents spoke positively about these staff,
there were concerns over the lack of staff continuity and
communication between agencies.

The residents who were most content with their housing situation
tended to be in supported accommodation with some independence.
However, some housing project workers reported a reluctance on the
part of some clients to move into less supportive settings, and a
tendency for statutory sector workers to be overly cautious about
placing them there.

Housing project staff added that the dependency levels of people
being referred to them in the first place were increasing.

The report calls on the government to reflect London’s own
unique requirements for mental health services in the way central
funds are allocated.

a Move On

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