New roles to help prevent homelessness in Swansea Bay

A DEDICATED new team is working with a variety of partners to help prevent homelessness across Swansea Bay.
The health board has recently introduced its first homelessness occupational therapy team as part of a new multi-agency project.

Funded by the National Lottery Helping End Homelessness Fund, the project sees a number of services and agencies work together to help support people with multiple unmet needs, who are homeless or at risk of being homeless.

Pictured: Occupational therapist Nasiba Chowdhury and occupational therapy technician Paul Hunt.
Nasiba Chowdhury has taken on the role of the health board’s homelessness occupational therapist, working alongside an occupational therapy technician, to support people by looking at different aspects of their daily lives.

They form the Homeless Health Occupational Therapy team within the Swansea NPT 360 project.
“The idea is to work with people who have overlapping unmet needs to overcome and prevent homelessness,” Nasiba said.

“We will provide a 360 approach to each person by working together for them.
“We will be working together with several agencies in a multi-disciplinary way to help meet peoples’ needs and support them to gain appropriate accommodation.

“We want them to not only sustain accommodation and survive but also to thrive.”
Part of Nasiba’s role will be to develop the referral process and to oversee and manage referrals into the service.

Occupational therapy technician Paul Hunt will support Nasiba with carrying out assessments and interventions.
Occupational therapists are trained to enable people to overcome various challenges in order to live more independent lives.

Nasiba added: “We focus on meaningful activities and look at the challenges people are having with completing the things they want, need or have to do throughout their day.

“People experiencing homelessness can have complex health and social care needs. They often experience physical and mental health issues and substance use difficulties.

“We value and appreciate people’s strengths and use a person-centred, strength-based approach to enable them to overcome challenges so they can do the things that are meaningful to them, as independently as possible.

“Within homelessness we could be supporting people with a range of activities, which could relate to their personal care, accessing health services, managing their finances, building skills and routines. It really depends on what the person’s needs are and what they want to work on.

“We can provide specialist assessments and interventions that will help to inform recommendations including, for example, appropriate accommodation and the level of support that may be required.”

The team will be work alongside charities such as The Wallich, Crisis, Barod, Include and the Welsh Refugee Council.
One of the project’s aims is to connect services and agencies so they can work together to enhance the support that is available to people.

“It was developed with the idea of working together to provide a holistic service and bridge the gap between services,” Nasiba said.
“Working for the health board enables me to access the wide breadth of services it provides, hopefully bridging the gap between health and third sector services.

“Some of the agencies involved in the project are services people experiencing homelessness routinely access so we are able to utilise their bases, resources and expertise to carry out assessments.

“By working in partnership with other services and agencies, we can take an outreach approach which makes it easier to engage with people and build a rapport with them and services.

“We are also able to establish a presence in the homeless community to ensure we are an accessible service.”
Some of the charities involved have facilities that simulate a home environment, such as a kitchen or a bathroom, so the team are able to carry out assessments there – where people may be more comfortable.

Nasiba said the project’s aim was not just to help people to find homes but to make sure they lived meaningful lives in their new homes.
“I think the project is going to have a really positive impact,” she said.

“It’s new and really exciting. Whilst it is very much in the early stages of development, it has already been well received.
“Hopefully we will continue to progress and develop and deliver a person-centred service to help people experiencing homelessness.”

Kristel Davies, locality lead occupational therapist, said: “The team has been making connections and showcasing the service within the health board to improve pathways and accessibility of services for this patient group.

“Having occupational therapy supporting those who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness is a very exciting and much-needed development in Swansea Bay.”

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