A safe and comfortable home is essential to support mental well-being. Without it, we know people experiencing mental ill-health are more likely to relapse and return to the hospital. This is why the STEPS service is so vital.

STEPS is an accommodation assessment and support service for Luton and Central Bedfordshire for people ready to return home or accommodation after staying in a Mental Health Ward. STEPS support them as they move from the ward back into their accommodation, ensuring they don’t become homeless.

STEPS ensures safe discharge safely by ensuring suitable accommodation is there for them and any care support packages are in place once they are released. By doing this, the service prevents homelessness and any unnecessary delays in hospital discharge resulting in bed-blocking.

STEPS is intended for:

  • Patients in mental health wards in need of housing
  • Adults aged 18+

How we work

  • STEPS receives referrals from ward staff, Care Coordinators, Social Workers, and self-referrals. People admitted to wards are assessed by our STEPS Worker within 48 hours
  • Every person referred to STEPS is supported to find suitable accommodation, reducing the number of patients who remain in the hospital for non-clinical reasons and avoiding discharge to no fixed abode or unsuitable accommodation
  • STEPS works with patients to find them suitable accommodation and introduces them to relevant additional community support services
  • STEPS is part of the Mental Health Housing Forum and works directly with Luton Borough Council to identify and secure housing appointments for patients much more efficiently than if they were to access these services alone
  • STEPS maintains contact with each discharged patient and continues to support them in the community with a minimum check-in at 3-, 6- and 12-months post-discharge, providing vital follow-on support. People needing longer-term help are referred to appropriate additional services
  • STEPS provides expertise in housing, benefits, and access to floating support services (including Penrose’s Synergy Service), ensuring patients receive appropriate housing advice and support
  • STEPS works closely with and signposts to community partners, including housing, hostels and drug and alcohol services, reducing the risk of relapse and readmission

Benefits to the community

STEPS has a significant community benefit in the Luton and Central Bedfordshire area.

  • STEPS reduce homelessness by preventing people from being discharged from hospital without accommodation.
  • STEPS reduces costs to the NHS as ward staff work with STEPS, reducing potential discharge delays. STEPS has a specific discharge lead on wards allowing them to identify reasons for admission that would lead to possible delays in discharge and address it from the outset
  • STEPS direct contact with the local council results in quicker appointments for patients, reducing the length of stay on a ward
  • STEPS provides expertise in housing, benefits and access links to floating support services, ensuring people receive timely advice and support. STEPS has close ties with numerous secondary services, including Central Beds Council, hostels, and Resolutions (drug and alcohol service), resulting in quicker discharges and reducing the risk of readmission
  • Appropriate support services are put into place before discharge
  • By attending the Mental Health Housing Forum, STEPS helps find alternative accommodation for people needing rehoming

What our participants say

Support this project

£5 – could pay for a mobile top-up card for a patient about to be discharged to stay connected.

£10 – could provide a bag of food essentials for someone returning home to ensure they have a hot drink and a healthy meal.

£25 – could go towards our running costs to provide a STEPS Worker on the ward.

Our sponsors

Bedfordshire and Luton Community Foundation