Help at home for elderly as winter falls

Winter has descended on the UK with snow and cold conditions expected to continue over the coming weeks. Many older and vulnerable people across the country will be suffering from the freezing weather, struggling to heat their cold and poorly insulated homes.

Help is available for people at risk of fuel poverty via the Foundation Independent Living Trust (FILT).  FILT grants fund vital repairs and improvements to make homes more energy efficient and/or easier to keep warm.  Works are carried out by Home Improvement Agencies and include a range of measures from draught proofing and fitting reflector radiator panels to replacement of boilers and central heating systems.

FILT Chair, Sara McKee, said: “Every year we hear of older people falling ill and being admitted to hospital due to the cold conditions, with too many of them dying. This has to stop.

“Our grants are life-changing and life-saving. They mean the difference between living in just one room of the house in an effort to keep warm to being able to live safe, well and warm at home.

“There’s also simple things we can all do like checking in on elderly or vulnerable neighbours while it’s so cold.

FILT has put together a series of tips to help people keep their home warm this winter:

  • The ideal temperature is 64°F (18°C) for your bedroom and 70°F (21°C) for your living room– Check that you know how to use your thermostat and how to control your heating
  • Small, low-cost changes can help keep your home warm – close the curtains when it gets dark, fix draught strips, and fit thermal linings to them if you can.
  • Have your heating system serviced – FILT can help you access funds through the FILT Gas Safety Charity initiative to get your boiler or gas fire serviced.
  • Keep warm to stay healthy – If you have a cold-related health condition, you may be able to get help to fix faulty or broken heating systems from funds such as npower Health Through Warmth.
  • Access help towards your heating costs – you may be eligible for financial assistance to help pay for your heating through schemes like a Warm Homes Discount, Cold Weather Payment, or Winter Fuel Payment.
  • Insulate your property – you may be able to get free or top-up insulation for your loft and /or wall cavities via the energy companies as part of the Government’s Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme.

The full checklist is available to download here.

To learn more about the grants available from FILT, contact your local home improvement agency who can then apply for the funding on your behalf. To find your local HIA visit www.findmyhia.org.uk and use the searchable directory, or phone Foundations on 0300 124 0315.

 


Small changes make a big difference

Minor home adaptions and repairs can make a big difference to older people’s health,  wellbeing and quality of life according to new research.

The ‘Room to Improve’ report by the Centre for Ageing Better and the University of West of England, Bristol (UWE, Bristol) found investing in home improvements also delivers substantial savings for the NHS and reduces the reliance on social care.

At FILT, we help thousands of older and vulnerable people keep safe, well and warm at home by funding vital home improvements.

Our work, delivered via a network of Home Improvement Agencies (HIAs) across England, makes a practical and tangible difference. It helps people to cook safely, have a hot shower and keep their house warm. In a country where winter decimates our older population every year, these changes can literally save lives.

The work we do often involves making small repairs but these deliver a big impact. Just £45 enables a handyperson to fix draughty windows and doors, £95 provides gas safety checks to appliances, £500 repairs a broken or unsafe boiler.

For ever pound spent, our Warm at Home programme saved the NHS £3.30 –  delivering a total saving of £2.4 million in one year through health improvements and preventing avoidable hospital admissions.

Home Improvement Agencies have a vital role to play in delivering positive health outcomes for older people, reducing hospital admissions and possibly avoiding residential care altogether.  This is better for the individual and it is better for our health and social care system.

Let’s work together to make sure the NHS recognises the value of including home improvements in their strategy to improve patient outcomes and deliver greater efficiencies.