10 steps to develop the housing market in learning disability services

Commissioners who want to make change happen – and who are unequivocally determined to see it through – must follow a visible and unambiguous process that is guaranteed to achieve their objectives. In our experience there are ten essential steps to developing housing and support as an alternative to other traditional services. This may not be the best process – and it is certainly not the only process – but it does work. Even if you don’t like it, the effort of challenging and changing this process may help get to where you want to be! Whatever you decide to do, you must above all else design a process that you know will work and that will enable you to achieve your strategic objectives, financial targets and timescales. A process that works must be resourced to manage known volume of work. Once you have designed the process, you must select people to run that process who have the right skills and values – if you don’t, you are always likely to end up right back where you started (or worse because you will have wasted a lot of time, effort and resources)!

Never forget that as John O’Brien says: “…people who are labelled often live lives under many eyes and under the influence of many voices that claim the right to determine what is legal or appropriate for them”.

Our ten tried, tested and trusted steps are:

  1. Collate evidence of need in accordance with your chosen localities (you can get started as soon as you have a meaningful sample)
  2. Map potential tenants within and across these localities (remember that there will be other people who will want to join in when they see that you are serious about the change)
  3. Decide where you are going to start (don’t worry about creating a perfect plan for the future before getting started)
  4. Select housing and support providers (the right providers will share the financial and non-financial outcomes that commissioners want to achieve – so trust them!)
  5. Engage providers as real partners (respect them as experts because they do this all the time)
  6. Select sites and specify design requirements (the right providers will not only understand what commissioners want, but inspire them to be even more ambitious)
  7. Set up project management arrangements for each site (enable commissioners and providers to work in partnership with unambiguous devolved accountability for decision making and problem solving)
  8. Set up referral/nomination process (this is not just a bureaucratic process – it’s about professionals, providers and prospective tenants working together to make sure that people end up being happy and fulfilled in their new homes)
  9. Use technology to reduce dependence on paid support (remember that technology providers are the real experts – for the rest of us our understanding is constrained by what has worked in the past rather than what is possible in the future)
  10. Tell the story over & over again (there is never any need to be defensive or apologetic – this is nothing but good news!)