Southwold House: How an existing service successfully adapted to better meet local needs

April 17, 2018

We appreciate the huge pressures that commissioners face. That’s why at Consensus we work collaboratively with local authorities and clinical commissioning groups up and down the UK to identify local need and respond to them with high quality, value for money, timely solutions.

That can translate into developing brand new services or evolving and enhancing existing ones to meet local gaps and need in the market including those arising from the Transforming Care Agenda.

We work closely with strategic commissioning teams to ensure that we are a part of their market shaping, offering a joined up approach which drives solutions meeting the needs of the most vulnerable in our society. We participate regularly in market engagement projects with Southend on Sea Council and Essex County Council, reviewing and discussing their approach to social care and their values, as well as keeping abreast of local need through conversations with social work and care management teams.

We are proud to have worked alongside other providers and assisted in the development of Essex County Council’s Care Market Strategy, shaping the market for years to come. It seeks to address what type of provision might be needed for people and how best that can be provided, and is built on six key principles including being outcome focused, and promoting independence, something which links very closely to our own ethos and values.

We are also very pleased to be a contributor to Essex County Council’s annual supplement ‘The Gift of Care’ that seeks to encourage people to consider a career in social care. We value this opportunity understanding that it is vital to recruit the right people who have the skills and values to adequately support the people in our services.

Through our conversations with Southend on Sea Council and Essex County Council we identified Southwold House as a service that wasn’t in demand locally. Southwold House was a 12 bedded residential home, which these days is a little larger than desired for a LD residential home and which  presented as an ideal property to re-develop to better meet local need.

We have remodelled and refurbished the accommodation to reduce the shared living area to accommodate seven people. The works have seen individual bedrooms all refurbished along with ensuite bathrooms, and included remodelling of the communal areas to provide generous amounts of communal space, including quiet areas. We also adapted the property to create four 1 bedroom flats, each themselves comprising of bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and lounge/diner. In meeting the request and need for individual living spaces we have received a high level of interest in the flats.

Managing the works throughout the duration has presented its own challenges as seven individuals continued to live within the home during the major refurbishment but we and the build company have worked in close partnership to keep any disruption to a minimum. Relationships have been so good between builders and the people living in the service that one of the people living at Southwold asked the site manager if he would help them make their bed one morning!

The flats and the home are to remain registered as a care home. People living in the flats have their own individualised accommodation and support package enabling a greater level of independence without the stress of managing a tenancy.

Southwold House already supports people with complex needs and behaviours others may find challenging. New people who will be living in the flats include people with this same high level of need who are stepping down from more secure accommodation including those who form part of the Transforming Care agenda. The staff team at Southwold House are well trained and highly skilled in meeting the needs of people with learning disabilities with additional complex needs as well as challenging behaviour. They are also supported by the local Positive Behaviour Support practitioner from our Positive Behaviour Intervention Team (PBIT).

Southwold House through reinvestment has been completely refurbished and reconfigured and can now meet local demand and need and affords the opportunity for those with complex needs who are seeking a greater level of individualised accommodation to live within their community with support to take full advantage of everything it has to offer.

If you would like to learn more about Southwold House, please contact Belinda Robinson, Head of Development & Partnerships (South) at

Visit our Southwold House web page