- The timely interventions provided social contact, emotional security, and wellbeing to householders who were in poor health and often experiencing isolation
- Householders reported considerable improvements in their home conditions and warmer temperatures, which led to enhanced comfort
- For every £1 of the funding distributed to households, the programme produced almost £4 of benefits in terms of better health
A £637k programme managed by the charity Foundations Independent Living Trust has helped 3,600 people stay in their own home warm, safe and well over a 12 month period.
The funding enabled life-changing interventions to make the homes more energy efficient and/or easier to keep warm. The measures ranged from draught proofing and fitting reflector radiator panels to replacement of boilers and central heating systems. The programme beneficiaries were over 60, on a low income or with a disability or long-term illness.
Work on the ground was delivered by 71 Home Improvement Agencies (HIAs) operating across 183 local authority areas. HIAs are local, trusted organisations which can provide access to tailored services that address common barriers to tackling cold homes. They are placed in a unique position to identify, reach and provide solutions for at-risk people, who are often on low incomes and facing the challenges of living in cold homes – worsening health, risk of injury and social isolation.
An evaluation report, Warm, Safe and Well, published today by the Centre for Regional, Economic and Social Research at Sheffield Hallam University found that the Warm at Home programme alleviated stress and had a positive impact on people’s quality of life and wellbeing, their feelings of safety and security and their control of the home environment. Smaller practical improvements often made a big difference to daily lives, which enhanced wellbeing and independence.
Benefits were sizeable when compared to the average cost of the intervention, which was £241. For every £1 of funding through the Warm at Home programme, an additional minimum £2.42 was levered in from other sources.
Sue Falder, team leader at Derbyshire HIA, one of the HIAs that took part in the programme delivery, commented: “We welcomed the opportunity to participate in the Warm at Home programme. It was a fantastic source of funding that enabled us to fund or joint fund essential heating repairs/improvements for our vulnerable clients, enabling them to live in a warmer home, improving their sense of wellbeing and reducing their risk from cold. The funding also generated additional funding of £76,761 to contribute to work that was undertaken.”
The review also found that the WAH Programme appeared to be filling a gap in service provision, helping people who were suffering from ill health and enduring cold or unsafe conditions in their homes, but who were just above the income eligibility criteria for other energy efficiency schemes.
The timeliness of the WAH intervention and being able to provide immediate relief to householders was seen as a major advantage of the programme. HIAs provided numerous examples of cases where they had been able to intervene quickly and it was likely they had prevented further illness or harm (such as hospital admissions, falls, prevented accidents and exacerbations of underlying chronic conditions). One HIA reported instances of boilers leaking carbon monoxide so the Warm at Home intervention may well have saved lives!
The people helped through the programme regarded HIAs as safe, trusted organisations that went the ‘extra mile’ and checked to see if everything was okay after work was completed. Having a trusted organisation provided people with reassurance. Contact with HIAs resulted in some householders being given additional information, advice and support and benefiting from follow up services provided either by the HIA themselves or by other local agencies.
Emma Moraitis, team leader at Homelife Carlisle, said: “The holistic home visits enhanced the ability to identify wider issues and we were able to refer to other local authority services such as income maximisation, referrals to Environmental Health and helped identify other appropriate grants and services. We were also able to refer traditional ‘hard to reach’ clients to various Health and Social Care services that they would not likely have accessed without the programme and we were able to target the funding to help speed up hospital discharge.
The Warm at Home programme therefore helped people to stay warm but also assisted people to be better able to afford heating their homes thus reducing fuel poverty. Importantly the programme had the added value of raising awareness of and accessing other housing related, health and social care services.”
Stephen Burke, Chair of FILT, said: “The evaluation shows how thousands of householders have been helped to live ‘warm, safe and well’. Relatively small and swift improvements to their homes and heating made a big difference to their quality of life, their health and their peace of mind. With more funding, FILT and local home improvement agencies could help many more people stay in their own home. It would also lead to big savings for our health and care services.”