Working together across BSW to provide Wellbeing Houses to help people enhance mental health and wellbeing

Often those affected by mental health conditions who have reached a point of crisis in their lives and are in need of extra support do not want to go to hospital and feel that they can receive better support elsewhere.

To help facilitate this, a number of different health and care organisations across BSW have been working together with local authorities, housing providers and Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) groups to provide what are known as Wellbeing Houses to help.

Wellbeing Houses offer an alternative to going into hospital for those who don’t feel safe at home overnight, or for whom things at home are contributing to a crisis. They offer overnight accommodation and a small number of beds in a home-like environment.

In terms of wider benefits for the local health and care system, Wellbeing Houses help to keep people out of hospital in a welcoming, non-clinical, homely environment and offer people strategies to stay well and avoid re-admission, offering stays of between 7 days and 4 weeks. They cost roughly 50 per cent less than the cost of a hospital bed and help reduce financial pressures on the local health and care system.

The houses have staff offering mental health and practical support 24 hours per day and individuals can stay for between 7 days and 4 weeks to help equip them with the tools, confidence and strategies to live as independently as possible in the community.

The services can be used as ‘step down’ for people coming out of hospital and as a ‘step up’ service for those needing a more supportive environment rather than in-patient care.

They also focus on next steps, using skilled staff to help individuals move on and to make contact with relevant organisations that can provide help with support, community outreach, financial, housing, employment and training pathways.

There are currently three wellbeing houses in the BSW area with a fourth due to open before the end of the year.

Kate Morton, CEO of Bath Mind – which has provioded specialist staff for the wellbeing house in B&NES – said the houses illustrate how a number of different organisations working together with community groups can successfully provide valuable and much needed ongoing support.

“What is really key is the community connectivity that these houses provide. When we are helping people to move on from the houses we work with community groups working in areas such wellbeing, food, gardening, music and art therapy to provide support, so those leaving benefit from a support structure in their own communities.

This is about keeping people safe, out of hospital and safe in their community where they can engage with community groups.”