The Bath Wellbeing House, a service that provides a retreat for people experiencing mental health distress, has won a national award at the 2018 UK Housing Awards held in London this week.
The service, delivered by housing association Curo in partnership with local community health and care provider Virgin Care and funded by Bath and North East Somerset Council, won the ‘Outstanding approach to meeting specialist housing needs’ award category.
The Wellbeing House provides a place of sanctuary so that vulnerable people can stay for free and be supported to prevent a crisis.
Harriet Bosnell, Curo Director of Health, Care & Support, said: “We’re over the moon to receive this national recognition. The Wellbeing House is a fresh and innovative approach to supporting people experiencing mental health distress to prevent their ill-health from getting worse.
“The Wellbeing House changes lives. Before its existence, local people would have to wait longer to access services that could prevent an escalation of their situation, or would find themselves entering hospital through an emergency admission. People using the service tell us they hugely value its non-clinical and home-like environment.”
The Wellbeing House team were joined at the awards ceremony in London by Ed who describes how staying at the Wellbeing House has helped him: “It’s a place where I can come and rest and catch up with myself, but also I can use the space to focus on some essential tasks and get perspective on moving forward.”
Paul Wilson, Head of Mental Health Services at Virgin Care in Bath & North East Somerset, said: “The success of the Wellbeing House shows that it is possible to prevent the escalation of mental health problems. We should not be waiting for people to reach crisis point before helping them – but as a system and a society that is what we often do. There are steps that lead to crisis and by recognising that fact we can offer people support much earlier, when they are more responsive to it.
“Voluntary admission to a humane service that meets the needs of the whole person can have a powerful impact. It is an approach that increases the prospects of people leading happier and healthier lives, and saves a great deal of public money. The preventative approach works.”
Last year the Wellbeing House supported 55 people over 99 separate stays, enabling them to manage their own conditions more effectively in a planned and non-clinical manner.
Alongside the life-changing support customers receive directly, the service reduces pressures and costs of other services, for example by reducing hospital admissions. The saving to the public purse made by the Wellbeing House, for example through reduced hospital admissions, was equivalent to £377,763 in the last year alone.
The award was judged by Lord Richard Best, chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Housing and Care for Older People and Neil Revely, co-chair, Association of Directors of Adult Social Services Housing Policy Network. In their feedback they said of the Wellbeing House: “Genuinely innovative and original but simple in concept, it provides a preventative service that clearly saves other service areas significant sums of money.”
People in Bath & North East Somerset can access this free service by being referred by a health, social care or housing professional, or directly by visiting www.curo-group.co.uk/wellbeinghouse.
Pictured, left-right: Wellbeing House customer Ed, Curo Wellbeing Project Officer Bethan Edmunds and Curo Director of Health, Care and Support Harriet Bosnell.