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Study looks into social landlords’ role in accessible homes

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Foundations has launched a new research project designed to help social landlords support more of their residents to live in accessible homes.

The Government-funded national body for home improvement agencies is looking at how housing associations and other registered providers carry out a range of home adaptations – from grab rails and stairlifts to changes that help tenants with sight loss or dementia.

Foundations Independent Living Trust (FILT) is supporting the study together with two leading housing associations that specialise in accessible properties, Habinteg and Anchor Hanover.

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The results will feed into a practical report that will showcase innovation and good practice with the aim of helping more people to remain living independently in their own homes.

Foundations director, Paul Smith commented: “Social landlords play a vital role in supporting some of the most vulnerable people in society to live independently. This important research will improve the evidence base about how home adaptations are carried out and help housing associations and other providers to improve the way they work with tenants to ensure homes are accessible.”

Adding: “We’d also really like to hear from organisations that feel they are delivering home adaptations and accessible homes very effectively, have a good partnership with local authorities, are using innovative designs, or have any other examples of good practice.”

At the heart of the research is a detailed survey covering seven themes, including policies and protocols around adaptations, the use of specialist staff such as occupational therapists and how adaptations are retained and recorded. It also looks at what support is offered to tenants to move home rather than have their property adapted.

Reflecting, Nick Sedgwick, director of service development at Anchor Hanover, said: “Social landlords are generally proactive in identifying the needs of residents and taking action to meet those needs. We can all point to many examples where appropriate aids and adaptations have massively improved the quality of life of residents.

“However, we also know of cases where there have been difficulties and delays in delivering the appropriate solution. Anchor Hanover supports this research project so we can share examples of good practice and all the organisation involved in the adaptations process can improve the way we deliver this important service.”

The study will build on recommendations contained in the National Review of the Disabled Facilities Grant, led by Foundations and published in November 2018.

The review found social landlords account for more than a third of all adaptations funded through DFG. Last year DFG was used to support around 53,500 people in England across all tenures.

The Government has made £505m of DFG funding available via local authorities during 2020-21 to pay for adaptations and other support.

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Alex Douglas

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