The Local Government Association (LGA) is highlighting the schemes, including handyperson services which provide eligible older or vulnerable residents with free or low-cost vetted staff to carry out home repairs and other tasks. Councils also provide residents with links to other schemes which will help them stay in their homes for longer, such as home improvement grants, or initiatives which make their homes more energy-efficient.
Handyperson services provide home adaptations and repairs either for free or for a small charge. Availability and eligibility varies according to area, but all schemes aim to help vulnerable people remain in their own homes, living more independently, as well as reducing the pressure on overstretched care services.
Work could include fitting low energy light bulbs and energy monitors, rewiring plugs and replacing fuses, decorating and home improvements, garden work, cleaning gutters and fitting smoke detectors.
All schemes save money from already stretched health and social care budgets, as the cost of repairs to prevent an accident in the home is a fraction of the cost of hospital treatment and subsequent recovery.
Cllr Katie Hall, Chair of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said:
“Any scheme which helps people to live more independently and safely in their own homes for longer can make a real difference to their lives. By providing these services, councils are helping residents and preventing accidents from happening around the home, as well as allowing the care system some respite.
“People can benefit from the peace of mind that a council-approved contractor will bring and can also trust their council to ensure the work is completed quickly, at a good price. For councils, such schemes can also provide an invaluable opportunity to check on residents’ welfare and provide support and assistance if required. They also save councils money from their already stretched adult services and health budgets by preventing or delaying the escalation of residents’ needs.
“Many older and vulnerable people find these handyperson services not only provide a lifeline, but help build relationships that they might never have made otherwise. Having a cheerful and positive person around the house that they can trust can sometimes make all the difference.”
- South Norfolk Council provides vulnerable residents with up to two hours’ labour from reliable, CRB-checked, local contractors through its Handyperson scheme, which offers a safe, affordable service and peace of mind for those in need.
- Everyone who uses the service is advised and assisted in other areas, such as benefit checks, opportunities to access charitable funding, assessments for bathing, energy efficiency and security of the property.
- The service helps support residents to remain independent, reduces health and social care costs and gives the council an opportunity to assess residents to ensure they are supported as effectively as possible.
- Its Handyperson service helped Mrs Oakley, an 80-year-old owner-occupier who cannot walk unaided and lives alone. She had previously been fiercely independent but mobility issues have meant she has become increasingly isolated, which has had a detrimental impact on her health and wellbeing.
- Through the scheme, her downpipe has been unblocked and an outside tap has been fitted to enable Mrs Oakley to maintain her garden, which helps keep her active. A Disabled Facilities Grant is helping Mrs Oakley make adaptations to her home, which will ensure she is able to continue living independently, maintain personal hygiene, access her property without fear of falling and continue to use her own transport.
- This work has created a potential saving of £92,800 over five years for health and social care services, who may have been required to support Mrs Oakley by alternative means.
- The City of York Council runs a handyperson service, which assists home owners and private tenants, particularly those aged over 65 or disabled people of any age. In one recent example, a 66-year-old single woman who had recently moved into sheltered accommodation was referred to the service as she was unable to pay for carpets for her flat, which had concrete floors.
- Her caseworker negotiated with the council to reduce costs and for the handyperson service to carry out some of the associated work for free. A referral to the service was also made for a number of small DIY jobs around the resident’s flat.
- As a result, the resident’s fear of falling on the concrete floor and injuring herself has been removed and she is more independent and keeping active. She had been spending a lot of her income on trying to heat the house but is now financially better off, as well as reporting a greatly improved sense of wellbeing.
- The resident feels much more confident there are services to support her and will make use of them in future.
- Derbyshire County Council’sHandy Van Network includes a fleet of 12 vans and a dedicated team of staff. With a resident’s permission, the team can also make referrals to partners for additional services that can aide independent living. This is run in partnership with Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service.
- North Lincolnshire Council runs the ‘one community’ project alongside Humberside Police, social services and several other organisations covering the whole of the North Lincolnshire area.