Yvette BurgessBy Yvette Burgess, Unit Director at the Housing Support Enabling Unit

Housing support services have changed and continue to change the lives of thousands of Scots, playing a vital role in helping the most vulnerable members of our society to live independently in a stable environment.

Without housing support services, some people risk becoming homeless; having to deal with unsafe or insecure housing ; having difficulties managing day to day tasks;  loneliness; failure to manage addictions and difficulty moving on in their lives.

Whilst those commissioning, regulating and providing housing support have an understanding of the positive impact services strive for, we all know that is not enough.

With public funding becoming ever tighter and the need to show demonstrable value more intense than ever, it is vitally important for providers of housing support to demonstrate the impact they have on improving outcomes at an individual level with an eye on the overall impact of their services.

It is against this backdrop that Better Futures was developed. It has two simple aims: to help to improve the quality of life of people using housing support services across Scotland and to enable organisations to plan and measure the impact they have on people’s lives.

The framework, which is underpinned by a web based recording system that uses easy-to-follow reporting tools, aids those using support services to identify goals and chart their progress.  This enables organisations to track outcomes – a feature which is equally advantageous for providers and their funders.

The innovative framework is now in its fifth year, and recently surpassed a major milestone with more than 12,000 people now having used the service.

Since its launch we have seen many housing providers, those commissioning services and, importantly, those using services taking advantage of the framework to measure progress.  This is helping organisations to manage services and plan service development.

There are currently 22 organisations signed up to use Better Futures.  They cover the length and breadth of Scotland and involve the voluntary, statutory and private sectors.  However, although that figure is ahead of target, we are keen to see the system expand to even more services and individuals across Scotland.

The value of Better Futures can be evidenced by both individuals and organisations – with comments like ‘positive impact’ and ‘taking control’ now commonplace. One organisation also indicated that Better Futures helped it achieve Excellent ‘6’ grades from the Care Inspectorate.

Better Futures can help housing support services ensure they are providing more personalised packages, that individuals see the progress they are making and that public money is being well spent.