A Home of My Own: Experiences of Moving from Mental Health Congregated Settings

On Wednesday, 21st June 2017, HAIL (Housing Association for Integrated Living) launched the evaluation report “A Home of My Own – Experiences of Moving from Mental Health Congregated Settings”. 
The report details the positive and life changing experiences of people with enduring mental health difficulties, moving from mental health congregated settings into independent living in the community, with supports. HAIL, in collaboration with the HSE Mental Health Services and local authorities, operated two unique projects over a five-year period, funded by the Genio programme. The evaluation assessed the client perspective of 56% of the total number of 69 clients supported by the projects. 
Dr. Richard Wynne, Director of the Work Research Centre, who compiled the evaluation said; “key findings of the report show, that for many of these people, living in hostels had become an almost permanent arrangement, with significant numbers having spent much of their adult lives, 10 years or more,  in this situation. Others had spent long periods in hospitals or in homeless facilities, and also had little experience of living independently. All but one individual, managed to sustain living independently in the community. This alone is a remarkably positive result. Results from the client assessments were very positive along the various dimensions assessed including; managing mental health, autonomy, recovery and life satisfaction.” 
Patricia Cleary, Chief Executive Officer of HAIL, said “this service makes an important contribution to the delivery of policy goals in mental health and housing. Mental Health policy, as conveyed in A Vision for Change, commits to supporting people with mental health difficulties to move to independent living in the community. The National Housing Strategy for People with a Disability also incorporates commitments to address the needs of people with mental health difficulties. Of course, success in policy goals in this area would be worthless if the people concerned, the clients themselves, are not gaining from the support to live independently in the community. The evaluation of the two projects visibly shows the important health benefits for clients who successfully made and sustained the transition, with many of them considering these to be really life changing.” 
The results, indicated in the evaluation, clearly demonstrate a high degree of effectiveness of the project, both in enabling transition to independent living and tenancy sustainment. Indicative costings prepared as part of the evaluation show the service to be affordable and represent good value for money in achieving policy objectives but also in operational terms for the housing sector (local authorities) and the mental health sector regarding the effective utilisation of scarce resources.  
Dr. Wynne stated “the excellent evaluation results from the projects are consistent with evidence from other jurisdictions of the role that floating support services can play in the delivery on mental health and housing policy in a cost-effective manner. Without such services, it is difficult to envisage successful and wide scale implementation of the recovery philosophy for people with mental health difficulties who have housing challenges.”  
Participants of the projects had this to say:
“It was very hard when I came out of hospital. I had my own room (in the hostel). It was tiny and I could not lock the door. I had no privacy with nurses present and sharing a kitchen and living area with everyone else….. It was like I was still in hospital…. it was stressful. I went to see the apartment, signed up and got my keys, I was just so delighted….when I moved in, it was like going to heaven… oh the peace! On a Saturday morning I can have my breakfast, turn on the TV and stay in my housecoat….I hadn’t been able to do that in 5 years.” 
Phil, Ongar  
“I always wanted to live here…. I love it…. I am doing a course for two years…. It is really good here…. I get my shopping and I visit my family… all nearby…. I cook dinner when I want, eat when I want…. I was waiting 20 years for this…”
Alan, Ballymun