B&NES Service User: “I have never felt so deeply listened to”
Wellbeing House – a short-term residential service that aims to de-escalate mental health problems before they reach crisis point – received national recognition at the 2018 UK Housing Awards held in London last week.
The service, provided by housing association Curo and part of a range of services Virgin Care runs and oversees as part of Bath and North East Somerset Community Health and Care Services, won the ‘Outstanding Approach to Meeting Specialist Housing Needs’ award.
Free to those who use it, Wellbeing House provides a retreat and place of sanctuary in which people can be supported to overcome a mental health crisis. As well as helping people cope with whatever has provoked the crisis, staff at the house help individuals develop strategies to prevent future crises.
The award recognised how Wellbeing House reduces pressures and costs of other services including saving the NHS money through reduced hospital admissions. Savings already made were equivalent to nearly £400,000 last year alone.
Judges said: “Genuinely innovative and original but simple in concept, it provides a preventative service that clearly saves other service areas significant sums of money.”
As well as winning the award, the service has attracted attention from commissioners and service providers from across the UK and it is at the forefront of the shift towards more preventative, pre-crisis mental health care.
Most important of all is the impact it is having on people who use the service. One service user said of the service: “I have never felt so deeply listened to as I have been here.”
Paul Wilson, Head of Mental Head of Mental Health Services for Virgin Care in Bath and North East Somerset, said: “The success of 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 offering to help them. 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 people can have a powerful impact. It is an approach that reduces depression, and increases the prospects of people leading happier and healthier lives, saving a great deal of public money. The preventative approach works.”
Harriet Bosnell, Director of Health, Care and Support for Curo, said: “Wellbeing House changes lives. Before its existence, local people were compelled to either suffer in silence, access statutory services or find themselves entering hospital through an emergency admission. People using the service hugely value its non-clinical and home-like environment.”