Healthwatch East Sussex (HWES) today publishes a new report on the experiences of homeless people living in Emergency and Temporary Accommodation (ETA) in Eastbourne.
We engaged with individuals and families living at an ETA site in Eastbourne for homeless people deemed eligible for housing by local authorities. We asked about their experiences of the accommodation, the support they received and accessed, and their access to health and care services.
- This Eastbourne ETA site provides several good practice examples of provision which can be a useful comparator in raising and maintaining standards across the sector. The staff also played an important role in listening to residents and providing emotional support.
- We learned that many people in Emergency and Temporary Accommodation may feel lonely and can become socially isolated, even if staff are approachable. Residents are not generally allowed visitors in this type of accommodation, so it is more difficult to stay connected to family and friends.
- Providing accessible information prior to arrival about the accommodation and local support services (statutory and voluntary) would improve the experiences of both residents and staff in connecting more quickly to appropriate help and support.
- Almost 50% of residents said they are living with a mental health condition. Feedback from those who had accessed mental health services was mostly positive. Critical feedback focussed mainly on significant waiting times or unreliable call-backs.
- Local voluntary and community organisations accessed by residents received unanimous praise. Feedback highlighted their essential role in providing support and connecting people to other statutory and voluntary services.
This research heard the experiences of those in emergency and temporary accommodation, building on our previous work with residents of Kendal Court in Newhaven in 2021 and 2018. It also tied in with our 2022 Listening Tour which focused on capturing local voices in Eastbourne.
To gather people’s views, we met with 48 of the 105 residents living at a single ETA site in Eastbourne. Our findings combine the views gathered from residents’ feedback, information and context from the accommodation provider, and the observations of HWES staff and volunteers.
“Having a safe place to live is an essential component of everybody’s wellbeing. Emergency and Temporary Accommodation is a crucial stepping stone that helps people progress to finding long-term housing.
The residents we engaged with told us how much they value their accommodation and the help they receive, but there is further work to do to support their health and wellbeing. Our findings and recommendations outline how accommodation providers, placing authorities, health and care services and others can collaborate to build on that which already exists.
We would like to thank South Downs Residential (SDR Living) for working collaboratively and allowing us to engage with their residents, and to the residents for sharing their experiences and stories. We will share these to raise awareness and explore further how they can best be supported.”
Our key recommendations
The findings and recommendations in our report aim to support service commissioners, providers and community organisations covering East Sussex to understand the issues that people are facing and how services may be improved for the benefit of all.
We are calling for:
- Local authorities and Emergency and Temporary Accommodation providers to introduce information sharing agreements to enable client’s information and support needs to be made available to ETA staff, enabling them to provide optimum services to new arrivals.
- Health and Care Services, Voluntary/Community organisations and ETA providers to maximise opportunities for ETA residents to care for their own health and wellbeing by applying the principles of Making Every Contact Count (MECC). This could include social prescribing, befriending outreach, play leaders and “first time buddy” support amongst other options.
- Health, Care and Voluntary/Community services for Adults and Children to increase the presence, accessibility and visual appeal of health and care information in ETA sites, especially Early Help 0-19 services, health visiting and children’s centre. Large print/easy read content, and clear options for translation or interpretation should be available for all.
- Healthwatch England (HWE) to champion inclusion and to campaign nationally for formal access to engage with people in ETA and supported accommodation. HWE should also support regulation of ETA and supported accommodation providers to deliver minimum service standards.
Response from the provider
SDR Living the provider of Emergency and Temporary Accommodation whose staff and residents we engaged with, has responded to our findings and recommendations, and their comments and feedback are included at the start of our report.
They have indicated that they would welcome formal regulation of ETA to enable better business conditions for investing and continuous improvement of accommodation sites, as well as better outcomes for residents.
As the public champion for local health and care services, Healthwatch East Sussex will continue to work in partnership with stakeholders to monitor the experiences of people living in emergency and temporary accommodation locally and explore how ongoing improvements may be delivered.
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