Home & Well project in Hampshire and Isle of Wight now extra important during COVID-19

Southern Water is helping to deliver the Home & Well Project in Hampshire and Isle of Wight which focuses on older and more vulnerable customers who need support with their utilities after returning home from a hospital stay.

Now more than ever during the current COVID-19 period, it is of critical importance for people being discharged from hospital to keep well once they return to their homes. For those who are shielding after discharge, it can be life-critical that the appropriate support is in place - to minimise stress and enable people to deal with the many life challenges and risks ahead.

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) has brought together a unique set of organisations to launch a new scheme to support residents in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight to return home after hospital as quickly and easily as possible.

When people are leaving hospital after an operation or a serious illness, it is important that they can focus on recovering as best as they can. SSEN will be working with Citizens Advice Hampshire, Southern Water and Portsmouth Water to deliver a new advice service in hospitals in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

Anthony Urquhart, SSEN’s Distribution Operations Director said: “At SSEN, our customers are at the heart of all we do. We make every effort to ensure that their needs are met, both during this exceptional time of the coronavirus pandemic and in our everyday responses to severe weather events or emergency situations. By working in partnership through Home & Well, we are able to reach even more of those customers; providing them with free, additional services that reach across a broad spectrum of the utilities they use on a daily basis.

“For anyone returning home from hospital, their recovery is their most important focus and through the Home & Well scheme, they can be assured that SSEN and our other Home & Well partners will have the additional services in place to assist them, and help alleviate any unnecessary worries they may have in relation to the power and water they need.”

This remote service offers patients a holistic review of their finances, including utility bills, supported by Citizens Advice Hampshire’s trained Advisers. This will ensure they are managing their finances and maximising the benefits that utility companies offer, including bill management, energy performance advice and water tariff review. Patients will also be helped to register for Priority Services from their electricity network operator and water supplier – this will allow them to receive additional support should they experience a power cut or loss of water supply.

Rachel Ryan-Crisp, Southern Water’s Vulnerability Lead, says: “When Citizens Advice Hampshire invited us to be part of this amazing project it was a no-brainer. We have a Priority Service Register already in place, along with special financial services and tariffs for our customers who require them, but we find that many people still don’t know they exist; Home & Well is a great way for us to talk to some of those customers directly and arrange the required support.”

The current list of hospitals which have signed up to deliver the scheme in phase one are: St Mary’s Hospital IOW and Petersfield Hospital. Discussions have started with Gosport War Memorial Hospital, University Hospital Southampton, followed by Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth. This will be progressed post COVID-19. In the meantime, the Home and Well service is being offered across the whole of the NHS in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight remotely.

Tim Cooling, Head of Strategy, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Partnership of Clinical Commis-sioning Groups said “Keeping people safe and well in their own homes following discharge from hospital is an important factor in avoiding re-admittance and is a key priority for the CCG. The Home and well service provides a valuable wrap around offer supporting individ-uals with debt advice, benefits and issues with housing and utilities.

Importantly, by ensuring that vulnerable people are signed up to the Priority Services Register means that those who need access to power and water as part of their health recovery needs are given additional support. The planned expansion of the service across Hampshire is welcome news and means that Home & Well will be able to support increasing numbers of vulnerable people who might otherwise have been at risk of having additional complications with their recovery.”

Jenny Erwin, Director of Mental Health Transformation and Delivery, Hampshire and IoW CCGs, added, “Research shows that people who experience a mental health crisis can sometimes struggle with managing their home environment. We believe the Home and Well project will be able to offer people the help they need to make sure their residence is truly a home, keeping them well and preventing their return to hospital.
“The NHS in Hampshire recognises the importance of a secure home as part of maintaining good mental health and wellbeing. When people find themselves in hospital needing our help and services, we believe the Home and Well project can help them return more quickly to a place where they truly feel at home. ”

Paul Bright, Chief Executive of Hampshire Citizens Advice adds: "Citizens Advice has a proven track record in making a difference to the most vulnerable people in our communities. "Home and Well" provides us with an opportunity to extend that reach and offer comprehensive solutions to those who need help the most. I am very excited to be working alongside the business community, the health service and colleagues within the charity sector to enable patients return home with all the necessary support in place."

For further details about the project contact Elaine Allum - Email: eallum@citahants.org  Phone: 07849 300685