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A KTP with North Tyneside Council transforms sheltered housing

A partnership between North Tyneside Council and Northumbria University is transforming the delivery of sheltered housing services. Through this award-winning KTP the Council’s tenants have been actively involved in a new and innovative approach where tenants have a central role in helping to identify new services. To date the results have led to the development of nutritional support for healthy eating, direct access to specialist nurses and multidisciplinary teams, and development of dementia friendly environments.

The Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) team includes Roy Marston, Christine McMillan and Joanne Rose at North Tyneside Council and Glenda Cook and Cathy Bailey at Northumbria University.

“What we have come to expect from sheltered housing in the UK is a reactive service, and what we are moving towards in North Tyneside is a service that is proactive and focuses on assisting older people to lead healthier and more active lives. We are consulting widely with our clients and putting their aspirations for living fulfilling later lives at the core of our service development,” says Christine McMillan, Service Manager, North Tyneside Quality Homes.
The KTP runs from 2012 to 2015. It involves Dr Joanne Rose, the KTP Associate, working directly with Council housing officers, with the 1,000+ older tenants in sheltered housing, and a variety of different public and voluntary agencies, such as the NHS and Age Concern.

This approach is based on the principles of involvement of older people in policy and service decision-making, developed from research conducted at Northumbria University by Professors Jan Reed and Glenda Cook in the early 2000s. Many of the principles identified by Reed and Cook such as grassroots involvement in key service planning decision are shaping the approach of this KTP and are now widely accepted in the care industry. For example, the reforms to the Adult Social Care Bill, passed by the House of Lords in 2013, is testimony to the idea of placing the individual at the heart of decision making processes within service planning.

A particular success of the KTP has been how it has helped to integrate and join up different types of services to provide tenants with a wider selection to choose from.. A Service Level Agreement between the Council and the charity, North Tyneside Age UK, means that the Council’s tenants now have access to a database of local leisure and social activities. This offers them greater opportunity to participate in activities that will impact positively on their physical and psychological wellbeing.

Another development that has been well received by tenants is ‘early intervention’, which provides urgent health care in the tenant’s own home, rather than taking them to hospital. When sheltered housing officers are alerted to deterioration in a tenant’s condition or an injury, they can make a direct referral to the community based Emergency Care Practitioner or Admissions Avoidance services. This benefits the tenants and public sector organisations through cost savings resulting from reduced demand for acute and emergency NHS services and fewer hospital journeys made by ambulance.

These service developments are based on analysis of group discussions between the KTP team and the older people that live in sheltered housing. It illustrates how, when handled effectively, putting older people at the centre of their care can reap many benefits.

The quality of the KTP has been recognised with receipt of two awards attained in 20-13: the Association of Retained Council Housing Award for Sustainability and Innovation and the KTP partnership awards for ‘Business Leader of Tomorrow’.

“The KTP offers tremendous value for money in terms of expert academic support and a flexible framework to deliver the strategic goals of the project; in this particular case I can categorically say this is well on the way to being achieved,” says Roy Marston Strategic Manager, North Tyneside Quality Homes for Older People.

For updated information about this research please read our Knowledge Transfer Partnerships case study called 'North Tyneside Council, North Tyneside Living and Northumbria University: Progressing from Reactive to Preventative modes of housing, health and adult social delivery'

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