Community Services – Sutton Vulnerable Adults Service

Last Updated: 12 July 2023

Where are we now

The Sutton Vulnerable Adults Service (SVAS) is a short term accommodation based provision with floating support commissioned by Sutton Council and delivered by St Mungo’s. This is a recovery focused service, providing supported housing and floating support for single clients.

In order to be eligible, clients must be experiencing homelessness, have a support need, and show willingness to engage with support.

The service offers a variety of flexible accommodation services consisting of three tiers:

  • Tier 1 – Intensive Support – this is the assessment centre which is staffed for 24 hours a day and has six beds, with an expected six to eight week length of stay.
  • Tier 2 – Medium Support – this is a flexible semi-independent service consisting of six sites with offices. There is a combination of self-contained units and shared flats within this tier. There are 49 accommodation units in this tier.
  • Tier 3 – Low Support – this accommodation consists of dispersed flats, mainly in Wallington and Carshalton with visiting support from support staff. There are 74 accommodation units in this tier.

In addition to the above, the SVA ‘pathway’ also includes a Housing First service and a Floating Support Service.

The Housing First service caters for clients with more complex or challenging needs; clients are housed first and then St Mungo’s work on the support needs. There are five units within the Housing First service.

The Floating Support service provides support to clients living in their own accommodation and lasts for three to six months. This service is split into two areas of focus:

  • Resettlement Support – this is for those who are leaving support settings or accessing independent living for the first time and who require support with settling into their new accommodation.
  • Homelessness Prevention – this is for those already living independently who require support to manage and sustain their tenancy. The support provided varies depending on the specific circumstances and needs of the client; an individual action plan is agreed with the client and may include support with managing bills and/or rent, or accessing healthcare such as mental health support or substance misuse services.

The service supports individuals who are resident within the London Borough of Sutton, or have been placed in temporary accommodation by Sutton Council, and who reside within independent accommodation (i.e they do not reside within a supported setting). This service is Housing funded and is not CQC registered.

There are currently 129 units of accommodation within this service and the ownership of the properties varies. There are 12 local authority owned properties and a further 25 properties owned by six registered providers. The housing management responsibilities vary across the properties; for some properties St Mungo’s hold the housing management responsibility, in some cases the landlord, and in some cases the responsibilities are shared.

Our Market

The SVAS is currently supporting 144 individuals. In order to be eligible  for this service, the service user must:

  • Be aged 18 or over.
  • Be homeless, threatened with homelessness, living in accommodation which is unreasonable for them to reside in or moving from other supported accommodation or an institution e.g. hospital, care, prison etc.
  • Have a demonstrable need for housing related support that is connected to accessing appropriate accommodation, setting up, maintaining or preventing the loss of their accommodation and/or independence.
  • Have the means to pay occupancy charges or be eligible for Housing Benefit and DWP benefits, following a Right to Rent check.
  • Be a person who has been resident in the borough for 6 months or have a local connection to Sutton as defined by the homelessness legislation.
  • Be willing to engage with the housing support service and terms of occupancy of the particular service and to work with the Provider to move on to independent accommodation in the private rented sector.

The following graphs provide further information on the current cohort of clients within the service. 

Diagram 1: Age Profile of Current Clients

Source: Sutton Vulnerable Adults Service, St Mungo’s June 2023

The bar chart above shows the age breakdown of the current client group. 32 clients are aged 18-25, 43 clients are aged 26-35, 41 clients are aged 36-50,  and 29 clients are aged 51-70. There are currently no clients aged over 70. 

Diagram 2: Gender Breakdown of Current Clients

Source: Sutton Vulnerable Adults Service, St Mungo’s June 2023

The pie chart above shows the gender breakdown of the current client group. 63.2% identify as male and 36.8% identify as female. 

Diagram 3: Recorded Disabilities of Current Clients

Source: Sutton Vulnerable Adults Service, St Mungo’s June 2023

Of the total cohort of current clients, 83 (57.6%) are recorded as having a disability. The pie chart above shows that mental health accounts for the largest proportion of recorded disabilities at 53%, followed by mobility at 16.9%. The remaining 30.1% includes learning disability, autistic spectrum, progressive or chronic conditions, hearing impairment and visual impairment.

Diagram 4: Recorded Primary Support Needs of Current Clients

Source: Sutton Vulnerable Adults Service, St Mungo’s June 2023

Whilst clients within this service often have multiple and complex support needs, a primary support need is recorded upon entry to the service. Mental health support is recorded as the primary support need for over half of all service users (53.5%). Alcohol support is the second most recorded primary support need at 8.3%. The remaining 38.2% of individuals have a variety of other recorded primary support needs including, learning disability/difficulty, ex-offender, domestic abuse, drug support and others. 

Fewer than 10% of clients within this service were previously care leavers.

In order to be eligible for the service, individuals must be homeless, threatened with homelessness, living in accommodation which is unreasonable for them to reside in or moving from other supported accommodation or an institution. Reasons for homelessness vary but can include, health issues (mental and/or physical), parental/family breakdown,  eviction from privately rented accommodation or social housing, domestic abuse, release from prison, substance misuse, or relationship breakdown where a tenancy is in the ex-partners name. A large proportion (approx 39%) of individuals within the service have previous experience of rough sleeping. 

Moving on from the service

The intended duration of stay in this service is up to 2 years, after which individuals will move on to a variety of other accommodation types. During the year 2022/23 39 individuals moved on from the service. 

The majority (51.3%) of clients who moved on last year moved into local authority housing. The remaining move on destinations included, registered care home, rehabilitation, prison, family, supported living setting, and housing association property. In a small number of instances, move on destination is unknown where a client has been evicted or abandoned their property,

In some instances, individuals may not be ready to move on from the service after two years due to a variety of factors including mental health needs, physical health needs, substance misuse, rent arrears, or other reasons. There are currently 34 individuals within the service who have stayed beyond two years.  Of these, thirteen are currently ready to move on and are in the process of identifying long term independent accommodation to move into either via the private rental sector or the housing quota. The remaining are currently unable to move on for a number of reasons including arrears, their current mental health and issues with substances. In some instances clients may be unable to move on into independent accommodation and may require higher needs accommodation. 

Where we want to be

As the current contract comes to an end, Sutton will be reviewing the next steps for this service to ensure that a housing support service continues to meet the needs of this cohort of borough residents.

The Council’s local authority trading company, Encompass, also delivers a range of supported housing services from short term external funding sources. The future delivery of this housing support service will take into account the total housing support landscape to ensure that resources are consolidated and to ensure that the housing support pathway is streamlined.

The collaborative development of a supported housing pathway strategy is required to understand and plan for the future support needs of adults and young people moving into adulthood who require housing support.

Challenges and Marker Influencers

There are a number of challenges facing the Sutton Vulnerable Adult Service including:

  • An increase in individuals presenting with more complex support needs poses a challenge to this service; clients coming into the pathway are often presenting with higher levels of needs than historically seen, requiring a higher level of support than this service is intended to provide.
  • Difficulties faced by clients with chaotic behaviour within the service when trying to access external services, such as mental health services.
  • Difficulties in accessing move-on options for clients, in particular accessing private rented accommodation locally and identifying long term supported accommodation for clients who cannot live independently.
  • Difficulties in the recruitment and retention of staff within the social care sector.