Munira met staff and residents from the Look Ahead supported living centre in Teddington to hear how the service was coping during the coronavirus pandemic. Look Ahead is a housing association which focuses on providing supported living to individuals recovering from mental health conditions.
Their model is to provide a pathway for people to gain greater independence whilst still accessing the support they need. There are several levels of supported living, ranging from 24-hour care to more independent settings with onsite support and care in the community. Residents can move into more independent settings when they feel ready, and back to higher levels of support if needed. This flexibility allows the accommodation option to fit the stage of the resident’s recovery and has proved to be more successful in supporting individuals’ changing needs.
Look Ahead currently supports over 100 people in their Richmond mental health service, across eight accommodation sites and a floating community-based support service. The service promotes a pathway to long term recovery, which in turn reduces hospital admissions and the use of emergency and crisis services.
Following the visit Munira said:
“It was a pleasure to meet residents who showed me around the gardens and explained their plans to grow vegetables with obvious pride. One resident explained how sitting by the river and drawing brought her a sense of peace. All of them spoke highly of the support and care provided by Victoria and her team.”
“Staff spoke of the positive outcomes achieved by the services and how early intervention is vital to mental health treatment. The pandemic has increased demand on the community support service, but despite extra staff and a 50% increase in capacity, the service is already running at full capacity. It is concerning to hear how mental health services are stretched so thin.”
“I have challenged the Government to increase funding to mental health charities in recognition of the impact of the pandemic.”
CEO of Look Ahead, Chris Hampson, commented, “We were delighted to have the visit from Munira and her team. We were pleased to make the case of the essential role of integrated care, particularly with the health and social care reform in discussion.”
“The Health and Care Bill looks to improve integration between health and social care. Earlier this year, a report based on Look Ahead’s mental health crisis pathway identified a significant possible saving to the NHS. The report outlined that if integrated mental health and supported housing systems were implemented across the rest of the country, nearly £1 billion savings using supported housing models.”
For more information about Look Ahead visit www.lookahead.org.uk