Listening to the customers
We are only just beginning to understand the full challenge of how to help people facing multiple or complex needs. People facing multiple needs are in every community in Britain and it is estimated that 58,000 people face all three problems of homelessness, substance misuse and offending in any one year.
Making Every Adult Matter (MEAM) is a coalition of Clinks, Homeless Link and Mind which has just (2 June 2015) published a report advising policy makers on this issue.
The report, entitled “Solutions from the Frontline” is based on a series of conversations with 50 people who either have experience of multiple needs or are working to help this client group.
These conversations have been distilled into nine key recommendations under the three categories set out below.
Listen to frontline voices and tackle stigma
1. Nationally: Ministers should identify a structured way to listen to the voices of people with multiple needs and the frontline staff who support them, to ensure that policies properly reflect their experiences and meet their needs.
2. Locally: Public bodies and services should review their training for all practitioners coming into contact with people with multiple needs so that they are able to understand their experiences.
3. At the frontline: Services should extend work and volunteering opportunities for people with experience of multiple needs, for instance as peer mentors, and create opportunities for progression within their organisations.
Deliver flexible and more joined-up services
4. Nationally: Government should ensure that funding structures prioritise recovery and rehabilitation and allow local areas to develop a flexible response. As part of this, it should consider a new national focus on multiple needs (see this MEAM report).
5. Locally: Commissioners should be accountable for ensuring local areas have joined-up services, and identify where people with multiple needs fall through the gaps.
6. At the frontline: Services should involve staff and people with multiple needs in designing programmes and the environments where they are delivered. They should give practitioners the freedom to build rewarding relationships with those they work with. See this briefing from Revolving Doors Agency for three effective models.
Support people towards independence
7. Nationally: The Department for Work and Pensions should ensure Jobcentre Plus and Work Programme providers can provide appropriate, flexible and personalised support to help people with multiple needs move towards independence.
8. Locally: Local authorities should consider how to improve their work with the private rented sector to increase access for people with multiple needs to good-quality accommodation.
9. At the frontline: Services should increase provision of specialist support on benefits and accommodation issues to people with multiple needs.
You can follow @MEAMcoalition on Twitter.