safety, security,comfort and companionship
- for life
Support for life for adults who live with enduring mental illnesses, through Outreach Services, Day Centres and Supported Housing
One of the characteristics that seems to set many of people with enduring mental illness apart, is the broken link between an action and a consequence; a link that most of us take for granted. They tend to behave and act very much in the “now”, without the ability to think about the future or of the possible consequences of their behaviour. It’s a symptom of the disease.
This problem is exacerbated by the use of recreational drugs, which is now recognised as a significant contributor to the development of psychosis. As the consumption of these increases, so do mental health problems.
So, why is our work needed?
The truth is that mental illness is estimated to account for at least a quarter of the country’s ‘burden of disease’ – and yet it receives just one tenth of the NHS’s funding. We also know that of the 2,000 incidents Hampshire Constabulary records a day, more than 80 are directly related to mental health issues – and over 40% of these are attended by the police, a huge drain on their already overstretched resources.
To make matters worse, overworked and under-resourced mental health practitioners are leaving the profession in droves, and most vacancies remain unfilled. At the same time patient numbers have risen by a third since 2013 with the result that the health and safety of the users of the service – and the staff who provide them – are in serious jeopardy.
The mental health sector is in crisis, and those with mental health challenges are suffering more and more loneliness, unhappiness and isolation.
In 2010, NHS West Midlands reported that early intervention and home-based care to support people with mental health problems has the potential to save £38 million through the reduction in acute hospital admissions, shorter stays in hospital, and reduced use of high-cost intensive interventions.
According to recent calculations done by our local District Council, the average cost of a person in supported housing for a week is £312 – compared with £3000 for a week’s hospital stay.
There is an abundance of evidence to support what common sense would tell us is true: that high quality, safe, secure and supported housing is fundamental to the quality of life of those with enduring mental health challenges.
We have seen it work beautifully in the homes for those with enduring mental illness that already exist, but they only offer short-term housing solutions. The model is there for long-term, permanent housing for this forgotten sector, and it is way overdue.
An expanding network of Hammersley Homes across the nation will enable an increasing number of vulnerable adults to feel less isolated and lonely, frightened or bored. What is more, they will soon feel the benefits that a sense of belonging brings – reducing the impulse to find meaning to their lives in antisocial and harmful behaviours.
The enormous financial pressure they make on public services – paramedics, hospitals, police, courts and prisons -, which has exponentially increased as a result of COVID-19, will also begin to be relieved.
What is more, families will be able to stop worrying quite so much, safe in the knowledge that their loved ones are being appropriately supported – and the lives of some of the hundreds of thousands of dedicated and self-sacrificing carers, many of whom are middle-aged or elderly – will be enhanced.