Assessing medical priority
Sometimes, an applicant on the housing register already lives in a home that meets the council’s bedroom standard, but wants to move because one or more members of the household has a medical condition or disability.
It is important to note that, when considering medical issues, priority is not awarded solely on the basis that a person has a medical diagnosis. It is awarded based on the detrimental impact of the current accommodation on the medical condition. Therefore, if the medical condition cannot be alleviated by rehousing, no priority will be awarded.
What we consider
When assessing medical priority, we consider the effect that the current accommodation has on the medical condition. For instance, if an applicant is a full-time wheelchair user but lives in wheelchair-accessible accommodation with the correct number of bedrooms, it is unlikely that they would be awarded medical priority. If, however, an applicant has severely restricted mobility and lives on the second floor with no lift, so that they are effectively housebound, it is likely that medical priority would be awarded.
Some assessments are straightforward, but some are more complicated and we may request additional information. Examples of this might be where an applicant tells us that they need an adapted property, in which case we may ask for an occupational therapist’s report to clarify their assessed needs and compare them to what is available in the current accommodation.
Other conditions, such as autism or other mental health diagnoses, are also less straightforward. No two people with a diagnosis of autism, for example, are necessarily going to have the same behavioural issues or the same needs. We will therefore often ask for more information from the professionals who are supporting the individual with the diagnosis. This is particularly the case where someone has complex needs or more than one diagnosis. We will consider the nature of the current accommodation, any safety issues and the effect of the behaviour of the person in question on other members of the family, including siblings.
It is important therefore, that medical forms submitted in relation to any mental health issue should be supported by letters or reports from professionals working with the applicant, clarifying the severity of the condition and the way in which it might be improved by a move to different accommodation.
If a medical form is submitted because disrepair in the home is affecting a medical condition, we will initially recommend that it is dealt with by the landlord. We will provide contact details for the council’s regulatory services team, who can support this process and enforce action where necessary.
If reports from appropriate professionals show that it is not possible to remedy the disrepair and that there is a risk to the household in the property, the case will be referred to the social welfare panel, which will decide whether additional priority should be awarded.
Overcrowding situation is not generally a medical matter, and attracts its own priority.
Notifying you of our decision
Once we have decided to award medical priority or not, the applicant will notified by email. If an applicant is not happy with the outcome of their medical assessment they may ask for it to be reviewed. This will be done by an officer who has had no previous involvement with the case and a formal decision letter will be issued.
It is important to bear in mind that medical review can result in an applicant’s band award going down as well as up.
Bidding correctly is important for people with medical priority. If we have awarded medical priority because you cannot manage stairs, we will not offer you a property with stairs, either inside or out. This means you should not bid for houses unless the advert says there is a stairlift, because they will not meet your assessed needs. If you do apply for a house, we may reconsider whether your medical priority should be removed.