Some of the most proactive and innovative local authority’s when it comes to housing adaptation provision have been revealed in a new report that aims to highlight best and poor practice.
Knowsley Council, Brent Council and Bristol Council were just three of the authorities picked out for demonstrating strong initiative and good practice.
Knowsley and Bristol offer display centres where older and disabled people can view possible home adaptations and equipment, as well as accessing a range of related services.
The Bristol showroom includes bathroom displays, raised-level kitchens, a variety of stairlifts and a working through-floor lift as well as a range of equipment.
It is used by the council’s occupational therapy team to carry out bathing assessments, which not only saves OTs travel time, but also provides people visiting the centre with the opportunity to look around and find out about items and modifications.
As well as best practice, the report, from Centre for Ageing Better, showed where some local authorities had demonstrated poor practice.
One provider reported that their initiative to recycle stairlifts had proved non-viable in their case due to issues of storage and finding that most of the reclaimed lifts did not readily fit into other properties.
Charging recipients of stairlifts an annual service charge for maintenance had also failed.
One of the main concerns among some councils was the extensive delays in undertaking adaptations even when works had been agreed.
There are 326 housing authorities in England and the report documented activity in a range of localities spread across diverse areas of the country.
All localities commented on the importance of the additional national government DFG funding in enabling them to put ideas and plans for adaptation service improvement into action.
The report recommended that the government needs to confirm continuation of the DFG as mandatory provision with assurance that explicit funding for home adaptations will continue to be allocated to local areas by whatever system follows on from the Better Care Fund review.
Some of the other providers picked out for best practice were: Care & Repair Manchester; County; Durham Housing Group; Cornwall Council; Oxford City Council; Onward Homes; Care & Repair Newcastle; Rochdale Borough Council; Yorkshire Housing; and Salford NHS.
Dr Rachael Docking, senior evidence manager, Centre for Ageing Better said: “Through our call for practice, we’ve uncovered fantastic examples of innovative, forward-thinking approaches to helping people to keep on living in their homes for longer.
“The Disabled Facilities Grant has been called the best kept secret in social care funding, and this report highlights those councils that are making the most of what powers and revenue they have.
“We’re sharing the good practice we’ve found so that everyone can enjoy the benefits of a good later life – and unnecessary NHS and social care costs can be avoided.”
Sue Adams OBE, chief executive, Care & Repair England, commented: “This research has revealed inspirational examples of excellent adaptations provision across the country.
“Innovation is being led by outstanding individuals and supported by visionary local authorities and others.
“The resulting home adaptations are life transforming for individual older people as well as benefiting the NHS and social services.
“Local authorities are under great financial pressure and so the really big challenges are to keep these great pioneers going as well as increasing adoption of best practice everywhere.”
Image credit: Centre for Ageing Better