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Better Mental Health in Reading: a future for Focus House

I’m really pleased to say that the council has published the consultation results from looking at the future of Focus House, a residential care home in Reading for people who are recovering from mental health issues.  I am determined that as the government continues to attack our health and social care services we continue in Reading to keep working to get help residents live fulfilling lives, especially those who are in need of extra support.
Responses to the consultation by people who use the service, their families and staff are clear that the services at Focus House should support recovery and independence. One comment from the consultation was that ‘Recovery stories begin at Focus House.’  It is clear that people value the service and agree that promoting recovery and providing choice should be at the heart of any change.
If the Committee agree with the recommendation I’m making, it will mean people can continue living at Focus House and will continue to be supported by experienced staff, but the service will develop with a real emphasis on helping people recover.
Every Local Authority is having to review how they deliver key services in the face of the unprecedented cuts in Government funding and at a time of increased demands for Council services.
In the case of the proposals for Focus House, I will be asking the committee to not only agree to make changes to keep it sustainable in the future, but is also to continue to help people to live fulfilling lives.

I am really grateful to everyone who has helped with this consultation in working out the future, and I’m confident that by working together we can keep developing the work of the Focus House team. 

Extract from council press release:
ADULTS suffering with mental health issues will be helped on the road to recovery with individually tailored packages of support to promote independence, under a new model of care being proposed by the Council following a recent consultation with people who use the service.
The proposals for ‘Focus House’ – Reading’s only Council-run mental health accommodation service – follows a three-month consultation earlier this year with service users, family members and staff.
Seven in 10 (69%) agreed with encouraging and supporting people to make better use of community services and support that promote recovery and independence. Many respondents also praised the commitment, experience and expertise of existing Focus House staff, and their skills in supporting residents towards independence at a speed appropriate to their needs.
Four options are being considered by the Council as part of a review to keep the service cost effective and to make it sustainable for the future, with a decision being made on Wednesday July 12th at a meeting of the Council’s Adult Social Care, Children’s Services and Education Committee (ACE). The options are to close the residential care home; outsource the service to a mental health provider; maintain the service as is; or to re-model the service into a Supported Living Unit.
Council officers and Councillor Rachel Eden, Lead Member for Adult Social Care, are recommending to keep Focus House open, but to change its status from a residential care home to Supported Living accommodation, with a clear focus on a level of independence and choice to aid long-term recovery.
If agreed, the proposals mean people being cared for at Focus House (14 Castle Crescent) can remain living there, and that support would continue to be provided by trusted Council staff who residents value and are familiar with. Importantly, 24/7 care would still be available for those who need it.
The change from a Residential Care Home to a Supported Living Unit mean residents would be given individual tenancy agreements and pay rent. Residents who meet the eligibility criteria will have the charge paid by Housing Benefit.

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