The independent review of the Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG), said that housing and health partnership boards should be set up in every area of England to maximise the impact of grants for home adaptations.
Commissioned by the Department of Health and Social Care, the report said boards would bring together representatives from each department and could be made a requirement of DFG funding.
The review emphasises that one of the top concerns is that responsibility for the customer pathway is often split between different organisations and departments that have separate objectives and budgets.
It goes on to highlight that services work best where there is a “joint commitment at a senior and strategic level” between housing and social care. The report coins this as the “Goldilocks Approach” as it brings together the knowledge, skills and funding required to deliver a person-centred approach that is “just right”.
Sheila Mackintosh, researcher at the University of West of England and co-author of review, said: “This review looks at the current way the Disabled Facilities Grant is delivered and how it could be improved to reduce pressures on health and social care.
“It shows how changes to the home such as providing a shower instead of a bath, installing a stairlift, ramp or rails, or in some cases a downstairs extension, can transform the lives of disabled and older people and enable them to remain independent.
“But governance needs to be improved, resources distributed fairly and transparently, and services updated to provide faster and more effective solutions in keeping with today’s lifestyles.”
This recommendations also include expanding the £30,000 upper limit on DFG in line with inflation and introducing a ‘smart home starter kit’ to be given to every applicant, due to the success of local authorities using the Amazon Echo to help with home care duties.
Paul Smith, director of foundations, the national body for home improvement agencies and DFG, said: “DFG will be 30 years old next year. In many ways, it was ahead of its time – recognising the importance of supporting independence. The preventative approach it embodies is now becoming the norm and we have an opportunity to bring health, housing and social care practitioners closer together to make DFG more effective.”
The review was written by the University of the West of England, Foundations, the Building Research Establishment (BRE) and Ferret Information Systems.