Housing staff in South Tyneside have been trained to give health advice on the doorstep as part of a new bid to support vulnerable tenants.
South Tyneside Council’s Housing Performance Panel heard 26 South Tyneside Homes staff have so far been trained to be part of the borough’s ‘Happy and Healthy’ homes scheme.
The scheme, which started on October 1, aims to support and sustain tenancies.
Staff are being asked to direct tenants to services they might benefit from while on housing visits - from adult safeguarding to health support.
Senior public health officer, Wendy Surtees, said the council faced several challenges around health and wellbeing from drinking and smoking during pregnancy to “unhealthy weight”
Neighbourhood officers, she added, were a “key asset” in supporting residents as they made contact with “some of the most challenging and vulnerable members of our community”.
Councillors heard the scheme would target vulnerable groups and help tackle social isolation in the borough.
The extra training aims to create feedback - with other services involved to improve information and support for tenants.
Coun Geraldine Kilgour praised the scheme and asked what role councillors could play,
She said: “We don’t know what we don’t know so communication is absolutely key.
“We have a huge responsibility to our residents and in whatever way we can we will work with yourselves to make that even better.
“It’s all about what’s right for that particular person. Someone coming in with a professional view is great but it’s about that ‘person-centredapproach.”
Coun Allan West called for more focus on loneliness in the borough with “targeted visits” as part of the scheme.
Coun Anne Hetherington asked if housing staff could attend children’s services boards to improve staff knowledge around referrals.
She said: “It gives them a chance to find out from another health perspective and be aware of what they need to look out for.”
A similar training programme ‘Making Every Contact Count’ was rolled out by One Vision Housing in Liverpoo to 85 staff, with plans for another 335.
South Tyneside Homes staff are expected to receive the same training, with the new scheme monitored and reviewed in future.
Chris Binding , Local Democracy Reporting Service