A pioneering initiative to measure the vital impact of housing support services in Scotland has surpassed a milestone after it was revealed more than 12,000 people have used the service.
The Better Futures framework has won wide praise as an innovative system that helps to improve the quality of life of people using housing support, as well as enabling organisations – for the first time – to record and measure their performance and to measure the impact this has on people’s lives.
Now, Better Futures is using the fifth anniversary of its launch to call out for more support providers and local authorities to sign up to the unique system.
The framework, which is underpinned by a web based recording systemthat uses easy-to-follow reporting tools, not only aids those using support services to identify goals and chart their progress towards independent living, but also enables organisations to track outcomes – a feature which is equally beneficial for providers and their funders.
Social Justice Secretary Alex Neil, the then Minister for Housing and Communities, launched the scheme in 2011 and continues to support its growth and success.
Reflecting on housing support and the role of Better Futures , Mr Neil recently stated: “The Scottish Government recognises housing support services play a vital role in helping some of the most vulnerable members of our society to live independently in a stable environment.
“Since its launch we have seen many housing providers, those commissioning services and importantly, those using services taking advantage of these tools to measure progress and prevent crisis situations. Better Futures shows the value of investing in services and improving service quality.
“I would encourage all local authorities and service providers to sign up to the system as it is helping people to live independent lives.”
The development of Better Futures was funded by the Scottish Government through the Housing Support Enabling Unit (HSEU) – a partnership initiative between Coalition of Care and Support Providers (CCPS) and the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA).
There are 22 organisations – including services in the Western Isles, Highland and central belt – signed up to use Better Futures, and although that figure is ahead of target, the HSEU is keen to make the system available to even more services and individuals across Scotland.
HELP Argyll and Bute Ltd provides support for 16-25 year olds across the Cowal and Bute area, who are either homeless, in threat of homelessness or leaving care.
Janet MacKellar, Manager at HELP, said: “We began using the system because it offers a way of recording the progress that our service users are making towards independent living.
“Better Futures has allowed us to provide more personalised packages of support and ensure our service users can clearly see the progress they are making, which is especially motivational.
“Ultimately, it has enabled our service users to get more out of life and be a greater part of their local community, and allowed us at HELP to identify issues quickly and respond with targeted person centred support.”
Blue Triangle (Glasgow) Housing Association (BTHA) is another support service benefiting from using the Better Futures framework.
One person using BTHA housing support services said: “It is a brilliant tool and is great for seeing the progress I have made – I didn’t think I had made as much progress as I have.
“The visual tool that it provides is great – being able to see how far I have come on a wheel and diagram made more of an impact than words ever would have done.”
Yvette Burgess, Unit Director at HSEU, said: “Housing support plays a vital role in helping to change the lives of thousands of Scots. We are delighted that in excess of 12,000 people across Scotland have had the chance to experience Better Futures already.
“As the integration of health and social care gets underway, it has never been more important for providers of housing support to demonstrate the impact they have on improving outcomes at an individual level, particularly in terms of health, housing and social wellbeing. Better Futures provides a good way of doing just that.
“With the Better Futures framework celebrating its fifth anniversary this year, we are encouraging even more support providers and organisations to recognise the benefits of signing up to the system.”
Better Futures has been inspired by various approaches used by supported services in Scotland and England and has developed out of the Supporting People Outcomes Framework which was piloted in Scotland in 2007.