Helping older people stay independent - Paul's blog

Home Improvement Agencies (HIAs) have been around for over 30 years and help people across all tenures to keep their home safe, warm and secure. They operate in over 80% of local authority areas in England are increasingly being run as ‘in-house’ services to deliver a better quality service for residents applying for a Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG).

Peterborough Care and Repair are a great example of a Council run HIA. As well as delivering the DFG programme they also run a handyperson service, install assistive technology, help with insulation and heating and support people returning home from hospital. They work very closely with colleagues in health and social care, helping to reduce admissions into residential care by 18% and falls requiring medical treatment by 26% in the last year. They were very well deserving winners of the Collaboration Award at the recent HIA Annual Awards.

For local authorities this type of collaborative approach that joins services up to meet the needs of residents can be a very cost effective and efficient way of maintaining independence for increasing numbers of older people. The Government recognised the need to invest in home adaptations by more than doubling the DFG budget in last year’s comprehensive spending review.

But DFG is no longer just about ramps, showers and stairlifts. There is much more flexibility in how the funding can be used and housing departments are encouraged to work with health and social care to develop joint solutions as part of the Better Care Fund. For example in Stoke, Revival HIA run a home from hospital service that helped 1,190 people last year with estimated savings of £450,000 by preventing delays and readmissions.

Foundations have recently published two new reports: The Collaborative Home Improvement Agency, our vision for more joined up delivery across housing, health and social care; and The Disabled Facilities Grant - Before and After the Introduction of the Better Care Fund, which details its history and how local authorities are now starting to do things differently.