John Bardens (Scrutiny Manager) introduced the report. The following key points were noted:
· The Scrutiny Manager explained that the draft report is based on the findings from the three evidence sessions and the written evidence submitted. The report is divided into sections based on themes arising from these findings. The Chair has also circulated draft recommendations for members to consider.
The Committee discussed the report and draft recommendations. The following was agreed:
· The Committee agreed to incorporate draft recommendation 6 into draft recommendations 1 to 4.
· The Committee agreed to amend draft recommendation 8 to say that housing providers should only carry out vulnerability assessments where it appears necessary.
· The Committee agreed to amend draft recommendation 17 to say joint training should be carried out where it would improve the support provided to tenants.
· The Committee agreed to include an additional recommendation to independently review progress six months after the report and recommendations are considered by the Mayor & Cabinet.
Resolved: the Committee agreed the draft report considered as the final report of its review and agreed the recommendations as tabled by the Chair, subject to the amendments noted in the minutes. The Committee also agreed that the report and recommendations be presented to M&C for response.
The full list of agreed recommendations is set out below:
Helping housing providers and local partners to work together
1. Housing providers and local partners, including the Council, SLAM, Mind, and other local organisations that regularly deal with mental health issues, should work together to develop an agreement/protocol on dealing with cases of low-level mental health.
2. The agreement should:
· Set out that all housing providers should provide proactive and appropriate tenancy support services for people with mental health needs
· Set out how partners should work together, and what they can expect from each other, in cases of low-level mental health
· Provide a directory of relevant local advice, support and services
· Set out pragmatic guidance on information sharing and data protection
3. The agreement should be supported by regular panel/workshop meetings where housing providers and local partners can:
· Share their knowledge, experience and best practice
· Build an evidence base on the prevalence of mental health issues, including low-level mental health
· Develop a common approach to dealing with low-level mental health issues
4. The resources and structures in place for the Lewisham hoarding protocol may provide a useful model for the setting up and running of the agreement and accompanying panel/workshop meetings.
Including private landlords
5. The agreement and directory of support services should be shared with private landlords as tool that they can also use to support their tenants.
Providing tenancy support services
6. All housing providers should provide proactive and appropriate tenancy support services for people with mental health needs who may be struggling.
7. Housing providers should make help with budgeting and managing debt a key part of their tenancy support services.
Helping housing providers to identify needs
8. Where staff have a concern about a tenant’s vulnerability, housing providers should carry out a vulnerability assessment early on in each tenancy to get a better understanding of the tenant’s physical and mental health, including whether they have any support or social workers.
9. Where a vulnerability assessment identifies needs, housing providers should follow this up with an appropriate number of home visits during the first year to make sure that tenants are accessing the support services they need.
10. Housing providers should reassure tenants that sharing information about their mental health will not affect their tenancy.
11. Housing providers should consider setting up a confidential phoneline that enables staff and residents to share information anonymously if they’re concerned about a person’s wellbeing.
12. Some housing providers are trialling ways of categorising tenants according to their needs in order to provide more targeted interventions. Housing providers should closely monitor the results of these trials and share their experiences with each other.
13. Some housing providers are looking into ways of helping tenants by “positively influencing” their behaviour. Housing providers should share their experiences from this and how it may be relevant to cases of low-level mental ill health.
Training for housing staff
14. All housing providers should provide frontline staff with training on having “challenging conversations”, to help them overcome difficulties encouraging people with low-level mental health issues to engage with support.
15. Housing providers should make sure that they’ve identified and provided mental health training, such as mental health first aid, to all staff likely to come into contact with tenants.
16. Mental health training for housing officers should be tailored to reflect their day-to-day experiences and be based on the situations that they are most likely to come across.
17. Housing providers and local partners should also hold joint training sessions between their respective staff on subjects and issues where it would improve the support provided to tenants to share their professional expertise.
Gathering more reliable data
18. Given the lack of reliable information on the rates of mental ill health, housing providers should look into best practice for making reliable estimates of this. As a start, this could include talking to L&Q about how they made their estimations.
19. Six months after these recommendations are considered by the Mayor, housing providers, local partners and the council should arrange for an independent external review of the progress being made. This should be carried out by an organisation with relevant knowledge and experience, such as Shelter.