Established in 2019, Affinity Trust’s Specialist Support division already supports people with complex needs in seven locations in Batley, Buckingham, Ellesmere Port, Leicestershire and Sheffield.
The division helps deliver NHS England’s Transforming Care programme, which aims to ensure that more people with complex needs can live in the community, with the right support, and close to home.
Richard Tellam-Clark, Director of Specialist Support, explains: “The aim of specialist support is to transition people from a hospital setting or a similar institution into their own home.
“So you have people with autism, a learning disability, a mental health diagnosis, those people who are ready to move on from hospital and be provided with specialist accommodation in the community. People get their life choices and their independence back.”
Successful moves out of hospital demand attention to detail every step of the way: from assessment, through sourcing the most suitable accommodation, to ongoing support. Affinity Trust aims for sustainable placements that avoid people having to return to inpatient settings.
Specialist accommodation is often new and purpose-built, with design features like underfloor heating, assistive technologies, curved internal walls, dual exits from each room and large living spaces. Affinity Trust opened its own such accommodation in Leicestershire in June 2021.
This specialist support work is underpinned by Positive Behaviour Support, which means staff develop an evidence-based and detailed understanding of people’s behaviour, and use proactive strategies to reduce that behaviour within a least restrictive environment.
Staff also have access to expert advice from the in-house clinical team. Together they help ensure that our specialist support is person-centred and focused on outcomes.
Affinity Trust works closely with commissioners, health professionals, families and individuals to achieve successful transitions. This multi-disciplinary teamworking extends to its everyday support.
Those sentiments are echoed by Gavin, who is supported by Affinity Trust in his home in Buckingham: “Where I was before, I couldn’t go out as much as I wanted to. But here…I can put my own gas fire on when I want to, watch TV when I want to, fall asleep in a chair if I want to…everything here is fantastic. It really is.”
At the end of September 2021, there were still 2,085 people in specialist hospitals in England. Over half had been there for over two years.