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Critical Time Intervention

Learning from our Critical Time Intervention pilot

Between June 2018 and March 2020 we piloted a Critical Time Intervention (CTI) model with people experiencing multiple and complex needs (MCN) in Newcastle and Gateshead, one of the first full-scale pilots of CTI in the UK.

What is CTI?

CTI is an evidence-based time-limited (nine-month) practice that provides support for people during periods of transition. It aims to develop a person’s independence, work towards person-centred goals and increase their support networks.

Our pilot

In our pilot, 35 people (13 women and 22 men) began the first stage of the CTI process, with the majority of the transitions related to a move into new accommodation (20 people) or release from prison (10 people). Seven of these people (one fifth) returned to navigation (a model of intensive one-to-one support) due to safeguarding issues.

Our learning and evaluation

Evidence from our pilot suggests that CTI is more appropriate for some groups of people than others:

  • CTI can work well for men who have already attained a level of stability in their lives;
  • CTI is less appropriate for people experiencing crisis and people who find it difficult to build and maintain healthy relationships (which includes people with experience of complex trauma);
  • CTI tends not to work well for women experiencing MCN because of the need for longer term support tailored to women’s needs.  

Based on this evidence, we do not recommend CTI as a generic approach for people experiencing MCN.  However, there is value in CTI being considered as a targeted model for discrete groups who meet certain criteria or as the second stage in a two-step model of support which would begin with a first phase based on a more traditional navigator approach.

Measuring outcomes

Our pilot measured outcomes using the New Directions Team Assessment (NDTA) which identified an improvement in average outcomes with scores decreasing by five points to just over 24 (out of 48). There was no improvement in average outcomes as measured by the Homelessness Outcome Star. Some people experienced outcomes such as maintaining new tenancies, addressing substance misuse, managing money better and rebuilding relationships with family. Overall the project had some limited success in supporting people to develop support networks.

Other requirements

Our pilot highlighted the need for: 

  • Staff skillsets to be grounded in coaching, advocacy, relationship-building and trauma-informed approaches.
  • A system that is able to take on people’s support after the CTI nine-month window ends which is not yet fully present in our local area.

Learn more 

Visit Critical Time Intervention: how our journey began to read about the background to our pilot.

The impact on our programme

The evaluation of our CTI pilot marks a crucial point in our programme as our frontline work has drawn to close, providing us with a major opportunity for learning and discovery.  Ang Broadbridge, FLNG Research and Evaluation Lead, said:

“This pilot has given us a deeper understanding of people’s experiences of transitions, of support planning and building and sustaining supportive relationships.  We’ve found that this approach worked better for some groups of people than others and as we understand it CTI is being explored as an approach in other UK agencies, so our learning will undoubtedly shape these developments.  There is learning for us as a programme that we can build on as we move into our final two years, about workforce skills and opportunities for building on promising practice identified around working collaboratively with other agencies.”

Contact us

If you’re interested in our learning from this pilot please get in touch with any questions or comments by emailing or joining our conversations on Twitter.