Tenants moving in to social housing are being offered an opportunity – along with the keys to their new home – to join an innovative project to help people achieve the feeling of wellbeing that they would like.
Social housing provider Plymouth Community Homes (PCH) is offering new residents the chance to decide whether there is anything they would like to improve in their overall wellbeing – and if so, receive support to achieve it.
The social landlord has teamed with health and wellbeing partners such as LiveWell, the NHS and Plymouth City Council’s Public Health team to provide practical choices and support to those who’d like to match a new start in a new home with positive lifestyle changes to help achieve the sense of wellbeing they aspire to.
The New Home, New You project could see PCH’s new tenants choosing to get out more in Plymouth’s beautiful environment; maybe tackle a smoking habit; perhaps take up walking or cycling; possibly join a like-minded social group to make new friends.
Some may wish to cut down a bit on drinking, others may like to learn how to get the whole family cooking and eating healthy, inexpensive food. The key is that joining the wellbeing-focussed project is completely voluntary and the specially-trained housing staff (who are proud to be Wellbeing Champions) will help to signpost new residents to activities and experts who can help them achieve their goals.
When they move into their homes, tenants will be asked if they want to volunteer to take part in the year-long study.
Housing Officers have been trained to talk through wellbeing issues and will carry out two short questionnaires about the resident’s current wellbeing.
They will then signpost people to the appropriate organisations for help and advice relating to their goals. Housing officers will continue to help and take an interest in those tenants who take up the New Home, New You offer.
They will meet the residents at six months, nine months and 12 months to carry out the questionnaires again and see how everyone is getting along – and whether more support or choices are needed.
PCH has also reviewed the contents of the Welcome Pack given to all new tenants. This contains useful household items, needed immediately when a resident moves in – things like like toilet rolls, tea bags and washing up liquid.
Where a new resident joins the New Home, New You initiative, the Welcome Pack will be complemented with wellbeing-related items such as toothbrushes and toothpaste, along with information about health and wellbeing services.
An evaluation of the project is being led by a Masters-level, post-graduate student from Plymouth Marjon University.
Steve Ford, Head of Homes and Neighbourhoods at PCH, said: “We know that housing and health are closely linked. A new home isn’t the complete answer to optimal wellbeing, but it can be the moment at which we all look at changing old habits for new, healthy ones.”
Jan Potter, Head of Health Improvement for Livewell Southwest, said: “We are delighted that Plymouth Community Homes is taking such a positive approach to supporting and enabling tenants to improve their health and wellbeing.
“Livewell Southwest’s wellbeing team has trained all the housing officers to really make every contact count, equipping them with the skills to have conversations about a range of lifestyle behaviours, like becoming smoke free, being more active, looking after their mental wellbeing and eating healthily.
“Livewell’s One You Plymouth service can offer PCH tenants ongoing support and provide lots of helpful resources, self-assessments, access to training and practical tips. Visit www.oneyouplymouth.co.uk or call the wellbeing line on 01752 437177.”
Councillor Lynda Bowyer, Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care for Plymouth City Council, said: “We are committed to improving people’s health in Plymouth and reducing health inequalities and we are working with all our partners to help make this happen.
“We are delighted that Plymouth Community Homes has taken this proactive approach, as one of our Thrive Plymouth partners, to improving the wellbeing of their tenants.
“Their housing officers have received training to have a wellbeing conversation with new tenants, with support from Plymouth City Council, Livewell Southwest and the Peninsula Dental School.
“I would like to wish the new PCH tenants and their housing officers involved the best of luck with this exciting new project.”
Sue Shaw, PCH’s Director of Homes, Neighbourhoods and Regeneration, added: “I’m delighted that we’ve now launched New Home, New You. It’s the result of fantastic collaboration between housing and health organisations in Plymouth, all of whom have been really excited by the idea that – between us – we can offer some real options for improving wellbeing, as people move into our PCH homes.
“I am confident that, with the choices and support on offer from our trained Wellbeing Champions, we can help those who want to improve their quality of life, in just the areas that they – not we – choose.
“Individuals are best placed to say what changes they feel ready and able to make, and we simply want to help them get all the help and encouragement they need. The start of a new tenancy, when people are very positive and upbeat, is often a perfect time to look at wider wellbeing.”
Press release issued by Plymouth Community Homes working in partnership with Livewell Southwest and Plymouth City Council