Gloucestershire County Council, District/Borough Councils and NHS partners worked on a joint action plan for healthy homes, supporting older people to live well and independently in their existing homes.
The county council, the six district and borough councils and the NHS in Gloucestershire have worked together to develop a joint action plan for healthy homes which offers a housing and health focussed range of services aimed at supporting older people (and other people with care and support needs) to maintain their independence in their existing homes.
The initial focus was on the use of Disabled Facilities Grants (DFGs) however this is now just one part of a more comprehensive approach. DFGs can be awarded by the local authority to help towards the cost of providing housing adaptions and facilities which support disabled people to stay safe and mobile in their own homes. As a two-tier authority, DFG allocations are historically sent directly to district councils who hold the statutory responsibility for them. DFG allocations are now aligned with the Better Care Fund (BCF) to drive the transformation of local services and ensure that people benefit from integration.
It was agreed with the six district councils to pool the funds and develop a joint action plan with the county council and the NHS in Gloucestershire that aligns to the outcomes of the BCF.
The councils’ approach
The Joint Housing Action Plan covers six broad themes:
- warm and healthy homes:
- Warm & Well – insulation and heating improvement programmes and grants
- energy saving and benefits advice and appropriate tariff and billing
- access to home Improvement agencies
- registration on priority services registers.
- housing expertise to support hospital discharge
- support for frail residents with housing options
- home sharing to support frail residents
- benefits advice and support.
- falls prevention
- alternative falls pick-up service by the fire service for non-injurious falls
- promotion of falls prevention
- carry out small adaptations
- focus on frequent fallers.
- Disabled Facilities Grants (DFG)
- integrated services and assessment with specific staff allocated to reduce waiting times for grants
- top-up funding for adaptations over £30,000.
- independent living centre
- opportunity to test equipment
- assessments carried out and self-assessment available
- range of items on show
- one stop shop for information.
- more accessible services through increased joint working across organisations including planners, commissioners, and developers regarding strategic housing needs into the future.
Outcomes of the joint action plan for healthy homes to date include:
- Setting up of the non-injurious falls pick up service, provided by the Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service in partnership with the Southwestern Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust and social care.
- Recruitment of housing advisors to work with front line staff to provide housing expertise, and older and disabled people and their families to promote positive conversations about their housing needs.
- Planners, developers, and commissioners are working together to influence large scale developments across the county and also with district councils and housing associations in schemes such as the Matson and Podsmead Regeneration Project.
- Setting up of the Warm and Well service, provided by Severn Wye Energy Agency, to improve properties through interventions such as cavity wall insulation through to the installation of central heating, to reduce the number of hospital admissions and help people to maintain their independence.
- Gloucestershire is representing the UK in a EU initiative (Build2Low Carbon) to reduce fuel poverty.
- Over 1,000 homes across the county will benefit from £5 million of investment through the installation of heating measures. The Warm Homes Fund is administered in arrears and our bid would not have been possible without the benefit of the DFG pooled fund to underwrite this risk during the first year of the programme.
The next objectives are:
- Development of a bespoke team of occupational therapists to work solely on DFGs, with a focus on ensuring assessments benefit from asset-based community approaches and positive risk taking.
- A list of adapted properties is being collated to reduce removal of adaptations and speed up housing allocations for disabled and older people.
- Exploring opportunities for a local Homesharing scheme with Age UK Gloucestershire and county universities.
- Scoping of a one stop shop scheme, to make it easier for people to access equipment to maintain their independence, receive assessments, and get advice from health staff.