New grant funding for adaptations to help the elderly stay at home
Monday 3rd December 2018 @ 12:29 by Lauren Entwistle
Dukinfield News

New grant funding for home adaptations including stair lifts and walk-in showers aims to keep elderly and disabled residents living independently and out of care homes and long hospital stays.

By Charlotte Green, local democracy reporter.

Tameside council have agreed to consult on a new policy for housing financial assistance which will see grants of up to £6,000 given to residents to improve their homes and make them safer.

But there are concerns that a nine-month waiting list for non-urgent work is still too long.

The revised proposals are the first update that has been introduced to the borough in 15 years, and incorporate increased government funding

It’s hoped that it will iron out some of the ‘bureaucracy’ involved running the scheme, and the ‘holistic’ approach will allow for more flexibility about where money can be spent.

And it could also tackle the problem of ‘bed blockers’, whereby people face delays to their hospital discharge because they haven’t got a suitable home to return to, putting ‘increased cost to the NHS’

Nigel Gilmore, head of strategic infrastructure, told the borough’s strategic commissioning board this week that under the new plans there are various types of financial assistance being made available.

These, he explained, are around “keeping people within their homes and not getting into the wider health system”.

“The last policy was done in 2003 and we have not reviewed it since then because we have not had the money, but over the last three years the grant has actually gone up,” Mr Gilmore said.

“There are nine initiatives around funding, these range from the direct disabled facilities and also more flexible funding.

“It’s a positive story in a way, it’s trying to be supportive and distribute some more money and make it more flexible.”

The new policy includes the existing mandatory grants, as well as discretionary grants for adaptations which will give residents up to £5,000.

The same amount will also be made available to make people’s home safe so they can be discharged from hospital.

‘Home repair assistance’ will be provided to vulnerable homeowners aged under 65, who can access a £6,000 grant to remove serious health and safety issues and carry out essential work to stop their property deteriorating.

Council leader Brenda Warrington told the committee her concern was around the length of time it currently takes to get adaptations installed.

And cabinet member for strategic development and highways, Councillor Warren Bray, said he also had concerns.

“I recently had to deal with an 86-year-old gentleman who needed a walk in shower,” he said.

“His primary carer was his wife who was 82. And the waiting list at that time was 15 months.

“They both of them gave up in the end. Eventually they did get the work done but nine months is still too long, what would it take to get rid of that waiting list?”

Mr Gilmore replied that they are working on a ‘root and branch’ approach to improve things, and hope to see waiting lists come down in the coming months.

He said: “We do have two lists and that’s the urgent and they go straight through.

“But we do have a more substantial list of people who do need help but aren’t as urgent.

“We had a 12 month waiting list a few months ago, that’s down to nine months now, with this extra funding it’s actually bringing that list down.”

Director of adult services, Stephanie Butterworth added: “Quite often, having an adaptation or some work done in somebody’s home might be the only thing that they need to live at home.

“So in terms of some capital outlay it prevents long term care needs or it delays long term care needs, and I think it’s an excellent use of money.”

Officers believe the new policy will improve the condition of the borough’s housing stock, as well as assisting people with disabilities and supporting the town hall’s aim of helping more residents to live independently.

The policy will now go out to a six week consultation, before being brought back before the executive cabinet for consideration.