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Guardianship - Together for the Community

Placing health and care workers with householders who want to offer a spare room.

A new programme has been launched in the South West of England to help tackle housing shortages for health and social care workers and to provide company for people with a spare room to rent.

Householders will be able to offer space to a fully-vetted member of staff or medical student, who in return will provide a few hours’ help around the home each week, if required, as well as companionship.

The programme, spanning Dorset, Cornwall, Devon and Somerset, is known as Guardianship - Together for the Community.

It is being overseen by Supportmatch Homeshare, an established UK firm, which has set up the non-profit Support&Match Community Interest Company to match individual homeowners with ‘guardians’.

The programme has been developed with Supportmatch Homeshare by NHS England and NHS Improvement in the South West. It involves:

  • NHS organisations that commission care or provide acute, community and mental health services
  • local authorities that provide social care
  • Health Education England, which oversees medical students

Each would be able to put forward potential guardians, whether existing or new. That might include overseas recruits who need accommodation when they arrive.

Support&Match will set up each agreement individually, to meet the needs of both householder and guardian. A special licence will be issued that includes rent at slightly below market levels.

As well as helping out key workers at a time of scarce housing at affordable rates, the programme is designed for people who are able to care for themselves but would like a housemate as well as some extra income.

Typical agreements would run from between six months and two years, but remain under constant review to ensure that both householder and guardian were happy.

If successful, the programme may be extended to different forms of support for people at home as well as to a wider geographical area.

Elizabeth O’Mahony, Regional Director for NHS England and NHS Improvement in the South West, said: “Shortage of affordable homes in the South West is damaging the NHS and social care, because staff often can’t find anywhere to live – and what they do find is often too expensive.

“That makes it hard to recruit and keep key personnel at a time when they’re needed more than ever.

“At the same time, we know a lot of people would value some company at home and have a spare room. Others might just want to help the NHS and social services.

“So it’s a simple way of making a real difference for everyone involved."

How householders and staff are matched

  • Householders interested in the programme can register by contacting Support&Match, so an initial conversation can be set up on what they could offer and how the scheme would work for them
  • NHS and social care organisations may also refer householders, with their consent
  • Health and care staff may put themselves forward either directly or via their employers
  • Medical students may put themselves forward via Health Education England
  • Staff are then DBS-checked and have references taken up
  • After initial conversations, Support&Match will seek to match householders with guardians, based on their needs and preferences
  • A ‘licence to occupy’ will be drawn up
  • Once placed, there will be regular follow-up to ensure arrangements are working, with a one-month termination clause in case circumstances change or things don’t work out

For further information please contact Support&Match: