HELP Project praises new initiative

Neil Kelly (right), Activities, Health and Wellbeing Coordinator at HELP gives assistance to a service user in using the Better Futures framework to track his progress.
Neil Kelly (right), Activities, Health and Wellbeing Coordinator at HELP gives assistance to a service user in using the Better Futures framework to track his progress.

An Argyll and Bute housing support project has praised a pioneering initiative – saying that the system allows the service to support young people to a healthier and more independent life.

HELP, Argyll and Bute Ltd, provides support for 16-25 year olds across the Cowal and Bute area who are either homeless, in threat of homelessness or leaving care, and has been using the Better Futures framework to track the progress of the individuals it supports.

HELP has gained the highest results (Excellent) across all categories in its Care Inspectorate reports, using Better Futures to demonstrate the impact of its work and encourages other support providers and local authorities to sign up to and take advantage of the unique system.

The Better Futures framework, which is underpinned by a web based recording system that uses easy-to-follow reporting tools, not only aids those using support services to identify goals and chart their progress towards independent living, but also enables organisations to track outcomes – a feature which is equally advantageous for providers and their funders.

In addition to benefitting people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, HELP staff have praised the Better Futures framework in supporting its provision of other areas of care and support, including addiction, mental health, employment and leisure activity.

Janet MacKellar, Manager at HELP, said: “We began using the system because it offers a way of recording the progress that our service users are making towards independent living.

“When we surveyed our service users’ experience with HELP, we achieved a positive rating of more than 95% across a variety of categories, and we believe that using Better Futures has contributed to these outcomes along with the quality of service we provide.

“Better Futures assessments have provided data, which has ultimately informed where we should direct our support and has also allowed us to provide evidence of need for funders. The process begins with each individual service user and their individual assessment and that plan then feeds into the bigger picture.

“This directs what additional services we need to offer and provides evidence for funding bodies to enable us to deliver them, which then produces the outcomes above – from the young person, for the young person.

“We would definitely encourage other support providers to use the system in a time when resources are short and need to be targeted.”

The development of Better Futures was funded by the Scottish Government through the Housing Support Enabling Unit (HSEU) - a partnership initiative between Coalition of Care and Support Providers (CCPS) and the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA).

HELP is one of 22 organisations – including services in the Western Isles, Highland and central belt - signed up to use Better Futures, and although that figure is ahead of target, the HSEU is keen to make the system available to even more services and individuals across Scotland.

Yvette Burgess, Unit Director at HSEU, said: “As the integration of health and social care gets underway, it has never been more important for providers of housing support to demonstrate the impact they have on improving outcomes at an individual level, particularly in terms of health, housing and social wellbeing. Better Futures provides a good way of doing just that.

“With the Better Futures framework celebrating its fifth anniversary this year, we are encouraging even more support providers and organisations to recognise the benefits of signing up to the system.”

Better Futures has been inspired by various approaches used by supported services in Scotland and England and has developed out of the Supporting People Outcomes Framework which was piloted in Scotland in 2007.

The survey results from HELP service users, polled at the beginning of February 2016, were as follows:

· 95.65% felt more involved in their local community as a result of engaging in volunteer opportunities

· 86.96% felt they were involved in meaningful activity

· 97.01% felt they were more motivated since becoming involved with HELP

· 95.65% felt they had improved their employability skills and therefore felt more confident

· 97.01% said they felt healthier as a result of being supported by HELP

· 91.10% felt they were in a home of their own choice