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Posted: Wednesday 20 July 2016

Locala-Connect Housing health and wellbeing pilot success

Locala has joined forces with charitable housing and support provider, Connect Housing, to help improve the health and wellbeing of people with complex health conditions in the Batley and Spen Valley area.

Michael Crowther, 63, of Dewsbury, is one of 32 people to be referred to the project since September 2015. He has received outstanding support as part of the joint Locala-Connect Housing health and wellbeing pilot and has been motivated to change his life.

Michael has a number of long term health problems including Osteoarthritis and uncontrollable muscle contractions in his neck, both of which cause him severe pain. He also suffers from depression, frequent falls and sleeping problems.

Following his referral to Ann Cooper, Health and Wellbeing Support Worker for the Locala-Connect Housing pilot, Michael was provided with counselling and emotional support for his pain, sleeping problems and depression. He now has a stair lift, perching stools and grab rails to help prevent falls, Anne also helped with his Blue Badge and Personal Independence Payment applications and supplied information about support groups and travel companions.

Already Michael’s sleeping patterns and mood have improved and he has a greater awareness of the impact of negative thinking on his mental health. Grab rails and perching stools have reduced his falls and he is now able to make informed choices about meal services and house repairs. 

As a result of Ann’s support, Michael is able to live independently in his own home and his health and wellbeing continues to improve. Once a keen gardener, Michael has been inspired to pursue this former interest and is now growing courgettes, cucumbers and tomatoes.  A new walking aid and the Blue Badge have also given Michael and his wife the confidence to go on day trips to new places and for breaks to their caravan, something they were previously too afraid to do.

Said Michael: ‘Ann kept me going and motivated me with different techniques and positive behavioural therapy. It was nice to have someone who cared. Ann was supportive and reassuring and I now have the confidence to go out and collect my own medicines. I feel able to manage more which is why Ann encouraged me to take up gardening again. Ann’s support has been really valuable.”

Michael’s wife added: “Ann was a godsend, she really went the extra mile. Michael struggles to open up to people but he really opened up to Ann, she got to know him and his little ways. Without Ann we would have been isolated, I don’t know what would have happened.”

Jane Parojcic, Locala District Nurse Team Leader said: “It's great to hear about Michael's journey as a result of this project with Connect Housing. We're keen to encourage our patients to manage their healthcare wherever possible, and maximise their independence. There is so much they can do if they have the confidence, knowing our teams are still there for them if needed.”                                                                          

Simon Calland, Wellbeing Services Manager for Connect Housing, said: “This is a fantastic story which demonstrates the positive outcomes that can be achieved for people with long term conditions living in communities where there is a coordinated and collaborative relationship between health and housing. It is great to see that through the support provided Michael’s confidence and independence have risen and he is getting out and about and enjoying life.”

Anyone with a long term health condition or disability, who receives care from community health teams and is at risk of needing increased levels of health care, can be referred by a health professional to the project, which will run until September 2016.

In October, Locala was awarded the Care Closer to Home five year contract, to provide community health in Kirklees. As part of this new model of care, Locala is working with organisations like Connect Housing, to improve the health and wellbeing of vulnerable people in Kirklees and maximise their independence.