How £110 can make a big difference

Around 1 in 9 British households live in fuel poverty. Millions of people can’t afford to heat their homes and many suffer from cold-related illness, ofter excaberted by poor housing.

Researchers from Bangor University recently examined the impact of warmer social housing on population health and the use of NHS services in the north-west.   They found housing improvements reduced the use of NHS services by 16% per household, saving £20,000 in just six months.

Importantly, people were also healthier and happier with a third no longer showing signs of fuel poverty.

At FILT, we know the difference that small home improvements can make to people who face the choice of eating or heating.

We help thousands of people each year via our grants progammes to live warm, safe and well in their homes.

Just like Miss Mapstone, an 84 year old who lives alone. She was recently visted by Care & Repair to install hand and stair rails after she had suffered a broken wrist after a fall.

During the home visit the Caseworker picked up Miss Mapstone’s nervousness about using her heating.  They discovered that the central heating boiler had not been serviced since it was installed over four years ago and the gas fire, which was over 20 years old, had never been serviced.

With the help of a Gas Safety grant of £110, Care & Repair arranged for the gas boiler and gas fire to be serviced. Unfortunately the gas fire was unsafe and had to be removed.

Miss Mapstone is now happy to use her heating and said: “I feel so much safer knowing my boiler has been serviced and is running how it should.  I was a bit concerned about the fire, and although it was condemned and taken away, I’m still pleased as I would have been using it (the fire) in the winter.

“Now the colder weather is here I’ve started to turn my central heating on without any worries and I know I’ll be warm and safe this winter.”

A small grant – about double the average weekly food shop – has delivered huge benefits.

To learn more about how FILT supports vulnerable people and the grants available, visit http://www.filt.org.uk and remember everything Begins at Home.


Keeping older people warm and out of fuel poverty in Surrey

Imagine being in your 90s and unwell, living alone without heating and hot water because you can’t afford to replace a failed boiler.

That was the case for two Surrey women who both faced a cold and miserable winter, and the possibility of having to move out of their own home. The stress for both them and their families was undeniable.

Enter Care and Repair Elmbridge (CARE) and Independent Home Solutions in Brockham, two Home Improvement Agencies (HIAs) funded to make vital repairs via grants from Foundations Independent Living Trust (FILT).

The £3000 grants are part of a seed fund from Sutton energy and telecommunications firm MAXIMeyes, provided as part of its Fuel the Change initiative. FILT and MAXIMeyes have teamed up to lift more people out of fuel poverty.

Thanks to the grants, the HIAs were able to conduct a full Warm Home Energy Assessment and organise the boilers to be replaced in each home. Both ladies now have peace of mind, not to mention heating and hot water which enables them to continue living independently in their own home.

The worry about paying for the boiler has now gone, and the risk of cold-related illness has been minimised.

FILT Chair, Sara McKee, said: “This story is a prime example of how a simple maintenance job can make a big difference to someone’s health and wellbeing. There are thousands of people like these two ladies in Surrey who are going without heating or hot water because they can’t afford to replace an old or dangerous boiler.

“They shouldn’t have to make a choice between eating or heating and I’m pleased that FILT, working with the HIAs and corporate supporters like MAXIMeyes, is able to step into the breach.”


Extra money available to keep South Yorkshire homes warmer

Yorkshire Housing’s Home Improvement Agency in Sheffield is delivering the ‘Warm at Home’ project which helps vulnerable people who might be suffering fuel poverty.

This funding is available to home owners, free of charge and will be welcomed by many as we prepare for colder weather. The funding is available to access all year round.

The project has received £13,000 from the Foundations Independent Living Trust, who is working in partnership with the Gas Safe Charity to provide heating measures in Rotherham, Barnsley and Sheffield. The scheme aims to help vulnerable people to access the support available.

Home Improvement Agency manager Layla Gorman said: “Funds like these are critical to the health and wellbeing of vulnerable people. Many people aren’t aware they are living in fuel poverty and suffer in silence in the cold. We urge the residents of South Yorkshire to get in touch to see if we can help put measures in place so that they are warmer when they need to be.”

To find if you’re eligible, call Yorkshire Housing’s Sheffield office on: 0114 256 4270 or go to:
https://www.yorkshirehousing.co.uk/home-improvement/sheffield

 


Taylor Wimpey donation helps vulnerable people live in dignity in own homes

Our charity, which helps older and vulnerable people stay warm, safe and well in their own home has benefited from a large donation from Taylor Wimpey.

The housebuilder has given £20,000 to the Foundations Independent Living Trust (FILT) to provide grants to fund vital home improvements when no other support is available. A further £1,400 was also given to our charity on behalf of Taylor Wimpey staff.

The donation will help FILT fund Home Improvement Agencies (HIA) to undertake repair or maintenance work that can help stave off fuel poverty, protect against carbon monoxide poisoning, or provide flood protection.

Last year our charity provided aid to around 3,500 people across England and Taylor Wimpey’s donation will mean FILT will be able to reach an extra 130 of the most vulnerable in the country.

Sara McKee, Chair of FILT, said: “Generous donations from companies like Taylor Wimpey enable us to continue reaching those people who would otherwise slip through the cracks and become a statistic.

The money they’ve donated will go towards grants that help vulnerable people have the basic necessities in life like being able to cook safely, keep their house warm, or have a hot shower. It will also ensure people can return to a warm and safe home after a hospital stay, while reducing the risk of health conditions escalating into emergencies.

“Many of the people we work with are disconnected from their community, through ill-health or social isolation. They are often missed by other services so the HIAs also help people access support ranging from counselling to benefit advice, in addition to doing repairs and maintenance.

James Jordan, the Group Legal Director and Company Secretary from Taylor Wimpey plc, said: “FILT does amazing work and we’re both delighted and very proud to be able to help them reach even more older and vulnerable people who may not be able to receive from other servicess. We know the impact good housing has on improving people’s health and wellbeing, so it’s great to be a part of FILT’s efforts to ensure people can live in a warm and safe home.”

Grants available from FILT include:

  • Health Through Warmth Crisis fund. This can help towards costs of new heating and energy efficiency measures for people who have a cold-related illness;
  • Health Through Warmth rapid care funding, which helps homeowners who are without heating or hot water;
  • Gas Safety grants can provide up to £500 to help make sure gas appliances like gas boilers and cookers are in working order.
  • Safe and Warm grants to carry out minor works to enable independent living, reduce hazards; provide energy efficiency (including cavity wall and loft insulation), draught-proofing; drainage and heating issues, etc. Between £250 and £7,500 is potentially available for those that meet the qualifying criteria.

Lancashire unsung hero retires

Cynthia Hakin has been a caseworker for St Vincent’s Home Care and Repair in Haslingden, Lancashire, for more than a decade.

Over the years, Cynthia has helped thousands of the most vulnerable in our communities to stay safe and warm in their own homes.

She retires in June and FILT would like to thank this unsung hero for her tireless work to support those who are often overlooked by everyone else.

This article shares some of Cynthia’s story.

How did you come to work at St Vincent’s and why did you decide to retire?

I started working life in the office at the Smith & Nephew factory at Brierfield Mill and then spent 34-years at Yorkshire Bank where I specialised as a finance & mortgage adviser.

After leaving the bank, I joined St Vincent’s and have worked here for the last 11 ½ years.

I’ve turned 65 and have recently become a grandmother, so I’ve decided to retire from St Vincent’s to spend time with my new grandchild.

What does your role entail?

My role is to identify vulnerable people at risk from issues caused or exacerbated by fuel poverty and excess cold, and deliver a care package to support them. This can involve combining funds from disparate, local authority, charitable foundation, and benevolent fund sources.

I have been instrumental in securing funding from Lancashire County Council, British Gas Energy Trust, Gas Safe, Scottish & Southern Energy, and nPower/FILT Health through Warmth.

What have been some of the challenges over the years?

The grants I apply for are often constrained by their rules. Plus, sometimes there is a lack of understanding about the impact the right home repairs can have on a person’s health.

For example, most of the properties in our area are ageing terraced houses built in the early 1900s and many of the roofs are of an age when they need repairing or replacing.   I approached a charity to support repairs at a house in Rossendale that had been left with a roof near collapse due to poor workmanship.   They asked me:  how does the roof affect their health?

Tell us about some of the people you have helped?

It’s hard to single out people. Many of my clients feel lost and alone, with no-one to turn to so it’s gratifying to be able to help in some way. However, a few cases that come to mind.

  • 88-year old was found collapsed and near death with pneumonia. His roof needed replacing and the carpets were ruined. He was an ex-newsagent so I approached The Printing Charity and the Newstraid Charity for funds. I was able to securing £5,500 funding to repair the roof also further funds to install new carpets and have the gas fire and boiler serviced.
  • 64-year old was defrauded by scammers when she tried to raise funding for a new boiler, she suffered depression and had Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) with osteoarthritis. Client was very vulnerable and isolated after her daughter died at the age of 24. Her house was bare and the boiler had been condemned and she therefore had to bathe by boiling kettles. I managed to organise for a new boiler to be installed.
  • 54-year old was living with her 36-year-old son who had special needs and OCD. Her other son had died very suddenly six months previous. The ceiling in the kitchen had partially collapsed following a leak and the stairs were unsafe. I managed to secure funding to fix both and also arrange for a second handrail to be fitted as the lady had problems getting upstairs. I also identified that my client’s only source of heating was a gas fire in the living room and I managed to secure additional funding through the NPower Rapid Funding Scheme for full central heating to be installed.
  • 78 year old vulnerable lady who had lived alone for 30 years and had a number of health issues. The lady had not allowed anyone to enter her home for over 10 years and when access was finally gained to the property, it was found to be in a terrible state.  The property was full of rubbish, infested with rats and the electrical wiring had been chewed through. Client had only lived in her bedroom for over 5 years with a small electric fire for heat.   The boiler was not working and also there was no working electricity downstairs.  Her toilet bowl was also broken and leaking. I managed to arrange funding to cover a replacement boiler, a full re-wire and new toilet. Once the electrics were up and running this meant she could live downstairs and I arranged for a new fridge freezer to be installed.

Over the years there have been many more cases too numerous to mention. I’ve always enjoyed helping people and will certainly miss this aspect of my job.


Applications deadline extended for Gas Safe Charity funding

The our Gas Safe Charity programme, designed to improve gas safety in the homes of older or disabled people, will continue in its fifth year.

We invite all home improvement agencies in England to make an application for funds that can be used on a variety of gas safety works, from servicing to boiler replacements. The deadline has been extended until Friday 26th May.

To request an application form, please send an email to info@filt.org.uk


Minor home repairs bring major benefits to health

Around 9,000 people died during the winter of 2014-15 as a result of living in a cold home. These figures, from a study by University College London, show that one fifth of the 43,900 excess winter deaths were caused by health conditions brought on or exacerbated by fuel poverty.

The risks of cold weather to health are well known. Recent research by the University of Bristol, University College London and the British Heart Foundation found that cold snaps double the risk of a major cardiovascular event. Numerous studies have shown that levels of influenza also rise in the winter, along with respiratory diseases, dementia and increased blood pressure.

Tackling the health consequences of low indoor temperatures is something that Sheffield Hallam University’s Centre for Regional, Economic and Social Research (CRESR) has been investigating. Our aim is to assess simple, low cost ways to help vulnerable people stay warm in their homes; measures that could be adopted at scale across different heath economies.

We evaluated energy efficiency improvements made to the homes of 4,000 vulnerable people in 2016 by housing charity, Foundations Independent Living Trust (FILT). The ‘Warm at Home’ programme provided £637,000 to pay for thousands of repairs, from fitting reflector radiator panels and replacing boilers to draught-proofing windows.

Our evaluation showed that these minor repairs had a sizeable impact on health, wellbeing and likely admission avoidance. Results indicated that the programme led to an additional 121.8 QALYs (quality-adjusted life years). Every £1 spent on home interventions led to £4 in health benefits and the total value of benefits gained was £2,436,000.

Read the full article on the HSJ website

This article was written by Jan Gilbertson, Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research at Sheffield Hallam University


There’s more to integrating housing and health than building new homes

Last year the FILT saved the NHS at least £2.4 million through house improvements for older and vulnerable people at risk of fuel poverty.

We distributed grants worth £637,000 through our Warm at Home programme to 3,600 people in England, helping them stay safe warm and well in their own home. The grants were delivered by 71 Home Improvement Agencies (HIA) across 183 district councils, and funded everything from draught proofing and fitting reflector radiator panels to replacement of boilers and central heating systems.

Yet the role of Home Improvement Agencies isn’t mentioned in the Government’s Fuel Poverty strategy. Nor do HIAs have a seat in the debate about integrating housing, health and social care.

As the new chair of FILT, I’m determined to change this and have set a clear objective to raise the profile of HIAs as a vital delivery partner to the NHS and social care. Here’s why.

HIAs are local and trusted

Discussions about integrating housing and health have focussed on building new types of supported housing or the technology and design features needed to sustain a happy and healthy later life. The HAPPI3 report recommended that the Government should boost supply of housing for the older generation, and the Department of Health should supplement the Government’s capital investment programme for housing with care support.

While I applaud these endeavours, the reality is we’re never going to build enough new housing to support older people, and besides many people want to remain living in their own home. Unfortunately, many of these homes are also not-fit for-purpose for our ageing population and the evidence shows that they either directly lead to an illness or exacerbate an existing condition. A highly influential review found that between 10 and 25 per cent of the 43,900 excess winter deaths in 2014/15 were caused by fuel poverty and cold homes. (Marmot Review 2011).

We believe that the answer to health across ages is to maintain and improve existing housing stock, in addition to new development. Yet the recent Housing White Paper was virtually silent on this. However, if we ‘future-proof’ existing housing for an ageing population, we recognise the emotional attachments to the family home and the importance of a close and better connected community. What’s more, some people are harder to reach than others. People on low incomes, with a disability or chronic illness can often be hard to reach as they might not be registered with a GP, they might be mistrustful of council services or socially isolated.

In our view, HIAs are in a unique position to help.  They are small, locally based not-for-profit organisations that are seen as safe and trusted by the communities they serve. As a result, they can identify those most at risk. They’re also often affiliated to the local social housing provider and can identify other local agencies that can provide people with additional advice and support. Plus, they are exceptionally knowledgeable about extra sources of potential funding, including grants, loans and/or other financial instruments such as equity release.

The multiplier effect – generation x

We know that relatively small home repairs and improvements delivered by HIAs can make a big difference. Not only do they relieve people’s symptoms, but they also make people worry less about their home. According to the evaluation of the Warm at Home programme, this makes them feel healthier, less stressed and better able to manage long term conditions themselves.

Programmes like Warm at Home also have a key role to play in addressing loneliness, which in itself can have huge consequences for an individual’s health and wellbeing through the generations. Visits by the HIAs during the Warm at Home grant programme provided social contact, emotional security, and wellbeing to older and vulnerable clients who were in poor health and often socially isolated.

Small = nimble + flexible

The evaluation of the Warm at Home programme found numerous examples where funding was provided in a few days for urgent home repairs. Swift action prevented further illness or harm such as falls, carbon monoxide poisoning, burns and admissions to hospital and residential care.

The HIAs could act quickly due to their locality, but also due to flexibility and a “light touch” approach to the funding and administration of the Warm At Home grants. The funding’s broad eligibility criteria meant that HIAs could help more people to keep warm, some of whom would not have qualified for other funding schemes.  The equation being fewer restrictions on what could and could not be funded enabled HIAs to use their judgement in order to better meet peoples’ needs and outcomes.

Policy in practice

The outcomes of Warm at Home have demonstrated how HIAs are well placed to deliver current policy recommendations. We will be submitting evidence on this to the Centre for Ageing Better’s consultation, The role of home adaptations in improving later life.

The NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) guideline on excess winter deaths also recognises the role of local networks in identifying people at risk of ill health due to cold homes, but also the importance of discharging older people from hospital to a warm home.

In the same guideline, NICE also recommended Health and Wellbeing Boards should commission a local single-point-of-contact health and housing referral service for people living in cold homes. Given the network of HIAs across the country and the breath of services provided, they are ideally placed to fulfil this role.

The Cold Weather Plan is another policy area where HIAs could become a key component of the delivery mechanism both nationally and locally.

Conclusion

The work we do in partnership with the HIAs is really simple. We make cold homes warm. And in doing so we improve people’s health and wellbeing and prevent excess winter deaths.  Together we are a vital cog in this country’s fight against fuel poverty and the fight for good health!

Watch out for our new campaign being launched this April.

This blog was written by Sara McKee, Chair of FILT, and was originally published on the Housing LIN website.


Get help to stay warm at home

Older people and vulnerable adults who are struggling to keep warm in their homes are being urged to reach out to their local home improvement agency to access free grants.

Foundations Independent Living Trust (FILT) is raising awareness of the programmes it delivers via home improvement agencies (HIA) and handyperson services in England.

FILT programmes fund life-changing interventions to make homes more energy efficient and/or easier to keep warm. Measures range from draught proofing and fitting reflector radiator panels to replacement of boilers and central heating systems.

Sara McKee, Chair of FILT, said: “Cold, damp and poorly insulated housing can lead to worsening health, risk of injury, social isolation and sadly death. People don’t have to suffer in silence – there is support available to improve the warmth and safety of their homes.”

In 2015/16 the charity’s Warm at Home programme distributed £637,000 grants to 3,600 people across the country, helping them stay safe warm and well in their home and saving the NHS an estimated £2.4 million.

People at risk of fuel poverty and who need help, should contact their local home improvement agency who can then apply for the funding on their behalf.

To find your local HIA visit www.findmyhia.org.uk and use the searchable directory, or phone Foundations on 0300 124 0315.


FILT guest blog on the Turn2Us website

We have been asked by our partners at Turn2Us to write a guest blog for their website. The article focuses on the funding we can offer to make homes warmer and safer. You can read the full article here.


Fix our broken housing, not just the market!

Foundations Independent Living Trust (FILT) is calling on the Government and corporate Britain to dig deeper and fix the country’s broken housing as part of National Energy Action’s Fuel Poverty Awareness Day (17 February).

We operate grants for local home improvement agencies (HIAs) to provide a range of support including repairs and improvements to the homes of older people and vulnerable people at risk of fuel poverty.

Our charity wants to raise an additional £100,000 this financial year to reach an extra 500 people in need.

Sara McKee, Chair of FILT, said:  “We need to fix the country’s broken housing, not just the broken housing market. Millions of people are living in houses that are not-fit-for-purpose and they don’t have the means to pay for repairs or make their homes more energy efficient. 

“This leaves them at risk of illness and people can die. You only have to look at hospital A&E departments and winter mortality rates to see the impact fuel poverty can have on someone’s health.

“We help thousands of people stay safe, well and warm in their own homes, but that’s a drop in the ocean. There are nearly 2.4 million households living in fuel poverty (1) and we have an army of handypersons who want to help them, but we need the support of Government and corporate Britain in order to do more.

“Poor housing costs the NHS an estimated £1.4 billion per annum (2). It makes sense to invest in prevention rather than cure at a time when the NHS is stretched to breaking point.”

FILT grants enable life-changing interventions to make homes more energy efficient and/or easier to keep warm. Measures range from draught proofing and fitting reflector radiator panels to replacement of boilers and central heating systems. Grant beneficiaries include people over 60, who were living on a low income, with a disability or long-term illness.

In 2015/16 our charity’s Warm at Home programme distributed £637,000 grants to 3,600 people across the country, helping them stay safe warm and well in their home and saving the NHS an estimated £2.4 million.

Our support keeps people happy at home and a small amount of money can make a big difference,” concludes Sara. ”Just £45 can enable a handyperson time to fix draughty windows and doors, £95 can provide gas safety checks to appliances, £500 can repair a broken/unsafe boiler.”


New Chair for our charity

We are pleased to announce that our charity has elected Manchester entrepreneur and campaigner Sara McKee as chair.

Sara has extensive experience in running blue-chip organisations, SMEs and large not-for-profits. She’s also influenced public policy for aged care, housing and welfare-to-work, and has set her sights on ending ageism and transforming lifestyle choices for older people via Evermore.

Sara replaces Stephen Burke, who chaired FILT for two years and has overseen a period of major growth. A £637k programme managed by FILT in 2015/16 has helped 3,600 people stay in their own homes warm, safe and well, and saved the NHS £2.4m.

Sara McKee said: “FILT looks after thousands of home owners who don’t have the resources to maintain their properties and often face hardships through cold, damp and uninhabitable situations. This has a knock on effect to local authorities and the NHS as it has been proven that poor housing has a massive impact on health.

“That’s why I’m passionate about building up FILT’s funds so that we can reach more people across ages who can continue to thrive at home with a little bit of support.  A few hundred pounds in repair costs can be unaffordable for many but make all the difference to their long-term health and wellbeing.  As incoming Chair, I intend to campaign actively and approach companies large and small to support those living in their communities – so prepare to dig deep.”

FILT finances practical work to the homes of hard-to-reach householders, for example boiler repairs, draught-proofing windows or safety checking and replacing old gas fires. Its programmes prevent poor health caused by cold homes, tackle gas safety issues and provide solutions for energy efficiency and fuel poverty.  The charity works with nearly one hundred home improvement agencies (HIAs) across England to deliver the work on the ground.

In the future, FILT aims to expand the range of work it finances and is keen to partner with companies looking to reach vulnerable, older and disabled groups through corporate social responsibility funds.


FILT continues partnership with SSE

The Warm at Home programme has received further funding from energy provider SSE. It will continue to enable quick interventions to make the homes more energy efficient and/or easier to keep warm. The measures will range from draught proofing and fitting reflector radiator panels to replacement of boilers and central heating systems.

The programme will be delivered by 20 home improvement agencies who have received grants between £3,000 and £15,000 to carry out home assessments for 750 householders and complete 380 energy efficiency-related works.

Read the evaluation report of the first 12 months of the programme.


Warm at Home programme has helped thousands of householders stay in their own home ‘warm, safe and well’

  • 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.

Download the Warm, Safe and Well report

Download the report summary


FILT partnership helps more people to live healthier, more independent lives

A partnership project supporting people over the age of 50 in St Helens to lead healthier, more independent lives in their own homes is celebrating its first anniversary.

The home support service is a lottery-funded partnership made up of our charity Foundations Independent Living Trust, the British Red Cross and the Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. The service has supported nearly 150 people in its first 12 months.

It offers practical and emotional support to people and has been designed to prevent unnecessary hospital admissions, and reduce pressure on local healthcare services.

Judith Ward, independent living service manager for the British Red Cross in St Helens, said: “Our volunteers offer practical and emotional support to people in their homes for up to 6 weeks. They help people by lending mobility equipment, supporting them to lead healthier lifestyles and to meet new people.

“We can also provide advice on adaptations, making homes warmer, hand and shoulder massages, and we can support people to develop personal health plans or accompany them to go shopping.

“Local young people play a vital role in the partnership. We ask users to place a card in their window every morning. But if pupils do not see it on their way to school, they inform a member of staff who alerts health or social care staff.”

Jean’s story

86-year-old Jean Bone is unable to leave her home because of a range of medical conditions.

Staff from the partnership ring her each morning to check she is safe and well. They also visit her in person and have helped her to apply for mobility aids.

Jean said: “They do everything, I only need to phone them if I need advice or anything.

They helped me get a trolley to eat my dinner from and that’s been wonderful.

The visits make a big difference in my life – I don’t feel as lonely.”

Tom Glynn is one of the members of staff who supports Jean. He arranged for her to be present at a Red Cross coffee morning via Skype.  The coffee morning was organised by pupils from Wargrave Primary School who enjoyed chatting to Jean on the computer and ensuring she was part of the event.

Tom said: “Jean is a very independent person. She is able to play an active role in her local community thanks to her computer and Skype.”

To find out more about the support at home service, ring 01925 295614 or email shsupport@redcross.org.uk


We are looking for new trustees to join our board

Foundations has been the government appointed national body for Home Improvement Agency (HIA) services since 2000. Foundations set up the charity Foundations Independent Living Trust (FILT), a growing and innovative national charity that raises funds to help older adults and disabled people be warm, safe and well in their own homes. As a forward thinking charity, we are looking for new trustees with the passion and desire to support the development of the charity’s work and increase our income and reach.

Your skills

We are aiming to broaden our networks and experience of the board as we continue to develop our links and strengthen our finance expertise. We also wish to reflect the diversity of our service users in our board. If you have skills and experience in fundraising and business development with a strategic overview of housing and social care, we would like to hear from you!

What’s involved

As a board member you will be expected to attending quarterly board and finance meetings which are generally hosted in London and attend other events as relevant; provide a strategic lead to develop the charity and its work; identify new funding opportunities for the charity; advise and support the charity’s secretariat. In return we offer out of pocket expenses and the opportunity to develop your skills and experience with an active board.

Interested?

To apply, please send a CV with covering letter setting out why you want to be a trustee of Foundations Independent Living Trust and what you could bring to the role to help develop and grow the charity, to applications@FILT.org.uk.

The closing date is 28th February 2017.

For an informal discussion, please contact our charity Chair, Sara McKee,  at info@filt.org.uk.


FILT funds floods officer position to help Carlisle flood victims get back on their feet

Meet Jack Dilley – the man offering a lifeline to flood victims. He has taken on a key role offering extra support to those hit by the storms of last December and helping them get back in their homes and protect their properties against future disasters.

The floods officer has just started the new role with Carlisle City Council, which itself was ravaged by flooding. Mr Dilley’s post has come about after the council and other organisations identified the need for extra full-time support for affected people in the city.

His role is funded by the Foundations Independent Living Trust charity, which works across the country to help vulnerable people remain in their own homes.

He’s tasked with making sure that the hundreds of people who still aren’t back in their homes following December’s floods get back in as soon as possible and he’s there to help residents iron out any problems.

I can’t promise to help everyone but what I will promise is to try to help people as much as I can, there’s no turn away,” he told The Cumberland News.

But Mr Dilley’s key purpose is to encourage householders to take advantage of the raft of grants available to help them make their homes more resilient against future flooding.

Grants of up to £5,000 are there to take advantage of – and they can pay for things like flood doors, flood barriers, automatic airbrick closures, non-return valves, pumps, raising electrics and concrete floors.

Should the city be struck by flooding again, measures like those are designed to either help keep water out of properties or speed up the recovery process.

Only 35 per cent of people who are eligible have applied for the flood resilience grants meaning hundreds more families are missing out on financial support to help protect their homes.

We need to get the message out there that there is help,” Mr Dilley added.

I think one thing why people haven’t applied is because they don’t know about it.

“There’s also a lot of proud people out there who might think they don’t need help.

“But the grants can also help retrospectively as well.”

The officer is urging people to take advantage of the money on offer or to flag up the opportunities with friends or relatives that have been affected.

Mr Dilley, the city council and other organisations have joined forces to offer as much support as possible to flood victims and help is always at hand, such as at a new centre in Spencer Street in the city centre.

We have a team of people that can help fill out forms, arrange surveys and get quotes so it makes the whole thing easier,” he continued.

In the past couple of weeks an elderly lady who was living in a bedroom upstairs with a hot plate and washing her dishes in the bath came to us for help and we’ve been able to do that.

He is also in the process of planning a flood awareness open day at Greystone Community Centre on October 25, between 2pm and 6pm.

There’s also a host of additional grants available to support vulnerable residents in Carlisle that Mr Dilley can help with, such as:

* Health through warmth crisis grant. This can help towards costs of new heating and energy efficiency measures for people who have a cold-related illness;

* Health through warmth rapid care funding, which helps homeowners who are without heating or hot water;

* Gas safety grants can supply up to £500 to help make sure things such as gas boilers and cookers are in working order.

* Minor works grants involve up to £5,000 for pensioners for essential works to properties to improve the health and wellbeing of the occupant.

Mr Dilley can be contacted by calling 01228 817301 or by emailing paul.dilley@carlisle.gov.uk.

 

This article was originally posted on the Cumberland News website


Report highlights role for Disabled Facilities Grants in linking up housing, health and social care

Some 40,000 people a year receive Disabled Facilities Grants (DFGs) to pay for home adaptations such as stairlifts, level access showers and ramps.

This is set to rise to 85,000 by the end of the decade thanks to increases in government funding. It should pave the way to greater increase use of a cost-effective grant that helps to reduce hospital admissions, cut care costs, delay the move into residential care and speed up hospital discharge.

Yet awareness of DFGs is still low, provision is fragmented and too often older and disabled people are left to search out solutions themselves.

The findings come in a new comprehensive report, commissioned by Foundations (the national body for DFGs and home improvement agencies) and supported by a range of partner organisations, examining how DFG has developed since it was introduced in the early 1990s. The report highlights areas at the cutting edge of provision – such as Knowsley, Cornwall and Ealing – where services have been joined up to great effect.

By pulling together support from home improvement agencies, occupational therapists and other health and care professionals – potentially in the form of new arm’s length management organisations, as Sunderland has done – the report suggests support will achieve a higher profile and be delivered more efficiently.

It will also build greater capacity to support those not eligible for DFGs, relieving the pressure on hospitals and social care departments through preventative approaches as England adapts to an ageing population.

DFGs are awarded by local authorities and are predominantly delivered by home improvement agencies, a network of 200 organisations across England based in local authorities, housing associations or run as standalone charities.

After being in what report authors Sheila Mackintosh and Philip Leather describe as a “policy vacuum” since its inception, “not really belonging to housing, health or social care”, DFG became part of the Better Care Fund (BCF) in 2014.

The report highlights this as an important breakthrough: “The accessibility of the home is finally being recognised as important for successful hospital discharge, to enable care to take place at home, and to allow people to live independent lives… it is possible to join up the previous disjointed pathways and link the DFG to other related health and care services in a way that will make much more sense to customers. Rather than standing alone as a single solution it can be part of a more holistic range of interventions to help older and disabled people remain independent at home.”

The report identifies key ways in which DFG can fulfil its potential:

  • Areas that have multi-skilled teams and have adopted lean systems, such as Ealing, appear to be delivering faster services with fewer staff – this approach needs to be adopted elsewhere
  • Older and disabled people often have to navigate complex service pathways to find the support they need. A much simpler system could be created that joins up provision – run by a local authority, HIA, combination of the two or through a new arm’s length management organisation
  • Funding levels clearly affect delivery times as backlogs occur when funding is restricted. This is less of an issue where teams have strong management, are outward looking, engaged with the health and wellbeing board, and where they have the support of elected officials
  • More robust information is needed on the outcomes of adaptations. Better data would enable the case for additional resources to be made much more effectively. Up to now the focus both locally and nationally has been on presenting data on expenditure rather than the impact on customers and on health and social care spending
  • Better Care Fund plans should include more detail on DFG including financial and staffing resources, the DFG delivery process, and the measurement of outcomes
  • GPs and other health professionals should be more involved in referrals to ensure better targeting of DFGs

Paul Smith, director of Foundations, said: “This report will be invaluable to all those involved in the commissioning and delivery of DFG – from health and wellbeing boards and clinical commissioning groups to home improvement agencies and disability organisations.

“We must work together to maximise the record levels of public money now being allocated to DFG and deliver more integrated and targeted services. This report sets out how that can be achieved.”

Download the report

Main findings


Homelife Carlisle win ‘FILT Delivery Partner of the Year’ award

This year’s winners of the national Home Improvement Agency and Handyperson Service Awards have been announced at a ceremony in the House of Lords.

Organised by Foundations and sponsored by AKW, the annual awards recognise the efforts of England’s 200-strong HIA sector to offer a wide range of home support to disabled and older vulnerable people on low incomes.

HIAs enable people to live independently in their own homes by providing everything from adaptations to specialised support for people with long-term conditions such as dementia.

Among the winners and commended entries were HIAs based within local authorities, housing associations and independent charities.

Homelife Carlisle’s work with Foundations Independent Living Trust (FILT) to deliver emergency support to those worst affected by the winter flooding in Cumbria made it a worthy winner of the FILT Delivery Partner of the Year award. Based at Carlisle City Council, the HIA played a key role in utilising the FILT Floods Fund to help people get back on track, by visiting those affected and then carrying out a range of work from drying out properties to fixing boilers and ensuring houses are warm and safe to live in. The holistic approach taken by Homelife Carlisle meant many other issues, such as debt problems and health worries, were also flagged up and householders referred to relevant support.

Read more on the Foundations website.


Missing link

Housing adaptations can help old patients move from expensive hospital beds to the comfort of their own home, says Paul Smith – Foundations’ director.

This article was originally published in Inside Housing

The recent report from the National Audit Office (NAO) on ‘Discharging Older Patients from Hospital’ made for uncomfortable reading. A rapidly increasing older population means that 62% of hospital patients are now over 65 and delays in their discharge from hospital accounted for 1.15 million bed days in 2014/15 at an estimated cost of £820m. However, a quick word search reveals not a single mention of ‘housing’ in the report despite numerous references to assessments and care taking place in the person’s own home.

Since the report was published other housing organisations have called for surplus NHS and to be given over for new supported housing schemes to provide a ‘step-down’ facility between hospital and home. The theory is that this would create a buffer at a lower cost, but it would take several years to realise and it would still cost more than helping people back to where they want to be – their own home.

So what can the housing sector do in the short term? Well, the NAO report does talk about adaptations as part of the ‘home with support’ discharge pathway.

Funding for Disabled Facilities Grants (DFGs) has increased significantly this year thanks to extra investment from the Department of Health. DFG is the main source of funding for home adaptations and is increasingly being used more flexibly to meet local needs. For instance, fast tracking adaptations to make a house safer to return to.

Home Improvement Agency (HIA) services are also helping people to return home sooner. Revival is a great example of a HIA run by Staffordshire Housing Association. They employ support workers based in the local hospital whose role is to meet the patient on the ward and then visit their home to assess how safe it would be when they’re discharged. They can arrange all sorts of services like cleaning, fitting grab rails, moving beds downstairs, identifying and removing trips hazards, fitting smoke alarms, repairing faulty boilers and so on.

Whatever the solution, the inclusion of DFG funding within the Better Care Fund means that discussions are now happening at Health & Wellbeing Boards across England. Some are at a very early stage, but it is opening the door to more joined up working across health, social care and housing for all tenures. However many accessible new homes we build, the issue for the vast majority of people will be the safety and accessibility of their existing home. We need to take this opportunity to ensure that housing services are in place to support hospital discharge for older people in a timely manner.

Foundations is now coordinating the pioneering Health and Housing Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between government departments, its agencies such NHS England and Public Health England and a range of professional and trade bodies. It offers a great opportunity for more collaborative approaches to hospital discharge to be developed and the learning disseminated.


Think CO materials available

The Think CO (Carbon Monoxide) project from Gas Safe Charity aims to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of CO poisoning with people who work in the homes of vulnerable people. Free posters and leaflets are available to download and print and a generic presentation. If you are interested in learning more about how Gas Safe Charity can work with you to raise awareness of the issue please contact thinkco@gassafecharity.org.uk .

Download free materials here.


DCLG match funding for floods caseworker

We are delighted to confirm that we have received the news that DCLG will match fund the generous donation received from npower to fund a Floods Caseworker for the Carlisle area.  Once in post they will help individuals who were victims of the flooding towards the end of last year who now need help with damage to heating and appliances, expert advice on matters of safety, advice on the use of accredited contractors and more general help to get back into their own homes.


We need a flood resilience strategy that is about more than sandbags

Original article published in Local Government Chronicle 22.02.16

On the face of it, Carlisle is getting back to some sense of normality after the devastation caused by December’s floods.

A huge effort by communities and various agencies has got the city moving again, even if there’s still much to do to repair vital infrastructure across the county.

But dig a little deeper and it soon becomes obvious who the worst affected victims of the flooding are – and the time it will take them to get back on track. I’m talking particularly about vulnerable people on low incomes, sometimes dealing with multiple health issues.

There are many people in Carlisle whose already difficult situation prior to the floods has become an awful lot worse. Without the necessary support, vulnerable people like these will undoubtedly put greater demands on our health and social care system.

A fresh approach is needed to both protect communities from future flooding and deal with the aftermath. This has been made possible via an emergency  appeal for Flood victims  set up by Foundations Independent Living Trust (FILT), which is helping HIAs across the North West and other flood-affected areas provide vital support right now.

At the time of the floods Carlisle City Council staff went door to door identifying those most in need of support and beginning the process of ensuring their homes are dry, warm and safe. But it’s also about identifying their wider support needs – from debt advice to mental health issues which may not surface until three months or more after the flooding. So investing in individuals and communities, to promote networks, relationships and friendships, to improve self- esteem and  coping strategies and personal resources will continue to be an important ingredient going forward.

As an accredited Home Improvement Agency,  we work with vulnerable people with complex needs every day and are well versed in helping them resolve what can seem overwhelming situations affecting their home and health. And in our own small way we hope this practical help can make individuals and communities  more resilient for the next  big storm to hit us.

 Robert has been successfully leading Homelife Carlisle for more than 5 years helping to make it one of the country’s most effective HIAs and helping local householders in greatest need to access the financial help FILT is able to provide.


FILT receives funding from npower for caseworker in flood hit areas

In the aftermath of December’s floods, FILT and Homelife Carlisle will be ensuring help is available for vulnerable households.

Thanks to funding from npower, a worker will be on hand to help people find their way through the difficulties to returning home. They will help with things like assessing damage to heating and appliances, sorting out temporary cooking/heating, getting practical work done in the home and signposting to other energy related services.

Homelife manager Robert Cornwall said: “This a really well timed initiative from FILT. It will  help us get boots on the ground to quickly start the process of repairs and restoration work for householders who qualify alongside the other offers of help being received.”

Stephen Burke, Chair of FILT said: ““By supporting local Home Improvement Agencies in the heart of affected communities, we can respond quickly and with minimal bureaucracy to support those in greatest need. We will work with the HIAs to reach those vulnerable householders speedily. We are very grateful to npower who already generously support our work. We are confident others will want to join them to help vulnerable householders make their homes warm and safe through the FILT Floods Fund.”

 To find out more about FILT and to support its vital work, go to: http://filt.org.uk/how-we-help-people/filt-floods-fund/


Npower Health Through Warmth Hardship Fund 50:50 Match Funding almost spent

The npower Health Through Warmth Hardship Fund generously awarded FILT an extra £75,000 in late 2014, in addition to other HTW funding that FILT already manages.  This was utilised through a 50:50 match funding project whereby local authorities agreed to match FILT funding for new boilers for those in need.

FILT invited Home Improvement Agencies to apply for funding and five were chosen.  Where there was a need for a new boiler (estimated at approximately £1500) for a vulnerable client the agency could use £750 of FILT funding, £750 of local authority money, and then if needed could utilise other FILT funds (such as Gas Safe and SSE funding) to top-up.

This project has proved very successful as the five agencies chosen had not previously applied to the npower Health Through Warmth Hardship Fund.

In total 107 cases have been completed and the successful scheme is now reaching its end. FILT are keen to speak to possible funders for similar future projects.


HIA National Conference – Booking is now open!

Booking now open.

The HIA National Conference aims to inspire the home improvement agency sector to embrace innovation and work collaboratively to improve services. Against a backdrop of scarce funding and increasing demand, our sector needs to find new ways of delivering quality services and forging productive new partnerships with the local health and care system.

The conference will be an opportunity for the housing support sector, social housing providers, commissioners and voluntary sector to get up to speed with the latest national policy updates and find out more about the role of housing support services within Manchester’s devolution deal.

Our event will also provide the necessary practical tools for HIAs to tailor their services according to commissioners’ requirements and the marketing insight and knowledge needed to redefine the offer while delivering increasing value for money.

Location: Mercure Manchester Piccadilly Hotel, Portland Street, Manchester, M1 4PH

Visit Foundations for more information.


FILT Launches emergency floods fund and appeal to help vulnerable householders make homes warm and safe

Vulnerable householders hit by floods in the North West this week are to get help with repairs and heating, thanks to an emergency fund launched today.

The national charity, Foundations Independent Living Trust, has launched the FILT Floods Fund and Appeal to support those affected by the flooding. Up to £200,000 of the charity’s £1million plus programme for this year is being pledged for low income households in the worst hit parts of the North West. The charity is also appealing to older people across the country to consider donating their winter fuel payments to the FILT Floods Fund.

Funds donated will be channelled by FILT to accredited home improvement agencies (HIAs) working in the North West, including HIA services in Carlisle, Wyre and Fylde, Blackpool and Lancaster.

These HIAs can help vulnerable householders with services to alleviate some of the immediate aftermath of floods and make their homes habitable again. While many people will have insurance or other resources to fall back on, there are a considerable number who won’t have the luxury of that protection and may be wholly or partially uninsured.

Members of the public and businesses can support this work easily by clicking on the ‘Donate’ button on the FILT website.

Commenting on the initiative, Robert Cornwall, who leads for the council in Carlisle on their HIA services, said: “This a really well timed initiative from FILT and will bring much needed immediate help to householders at greatest risk, perhaps because of illness or inadequate or non-existent insurance protection for their home.  While our immediate focus has been on ensuring the safety of everyone in the community, I and my colleagues in housing are now turning our attention to those needing temporary accommodation and those at greatest need because of work needed on the home.  We hope this initiative can help us get boots on the ground to quickly start the process of repairs and restoration work for householders who qualify alongside the other offers of help being received.”

Chair of the FILT Board, which agreed to set up the Fund this week, Stephen Burke added: “By supporting local Home Improvement Agencies in the heart of affected communities, we can respond quickly and with minimal bureaucracy to support those in greatest need. We will work with the HIAs to reach those vulnerable householders speedily. We have excellent relations with a number of national firms and organisations who already generously support our work. We are confident others will want to join them to help vulnerable householders make their homes warm and safe through the FILT Floods Fund.”

Notes for editors

  1. The Foundations Independent Living Trust (registered charity number 1103784) aims to connect committed business and charitable partners with local organisations, helping keep vulnerable householders warm, safe and secure. We work closely with Home Improvement Agencies (HIAs), ensuring a trusted and quality assured service is provided to the householders we support. This year FILT will distribute over £1m to bring help to some 7,000 at-risk households.

For further details go to: www.filt.org.uk

  1. HIAs – Home improvement and handyperson service providers are local, trusted organisations dedicated to helping older people, people with disabilities, and vulnerable people to live in safety and with dignity in their own homes. Services are focused on ensuring that existing housing is fit for purpose and that vulnerable people are able to continue living independently as long as possible. There are over 200 home improvement and handyperson service providers in England, covering over 80% of local authorities and between them handling around 300,000 enquiries per year.

For more information and to find a local HIA, visit www.foundations.uk.com

For media enquiries please contact paulw@foundations.uk.com or 01457 761266.


Winter deaths ‘highest since 1999’

 

Official figures for England and Wales show an increase in the number of winter deaths, an estimated 43,190 excess winter deaths occurred in 2014/15 – the highest number since 1999/00.[1]

The data released by ONS shows that most of the deaths involved people over 75. There were an estimated 36,300 excess winter deaths in this age group, compared with 7,700 in people aged under 75.

Cold, damp and poorly insulated housing are important factors in excess winter mortality, and in less severe cases they can lead to worsening health, risk of injury and social isolation.

Home improvement agencies – local, trusted providers who provide a range of services to help older and vulnerable people stay independent at home – can provide access to tailored services that address common barriers to tackling cold homes. Small measures such as heating and insulation repairs or gas safety works can sometimes make a huge impact to an individual’s health and wellbeing.

Earlier this year NICE, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, released a new guidance on how to reduce deaths and illnesses caused by cold homes (http://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng6). NICE outlined the vital role that home improvement agencies can play in in tackling excess winter deaths by creating a single-point-of-contact referral system so that staff in contact with vulnerable people have a quick and easy way to get help from national and local service providers.

Our charitable arm Foundations Independent Living Trust can also provide access to tailored solutions for people living in cold homes. FILT is already working at a national level with energy providers and energy charities, distributing small grants to HIAs that help home owners on low incomes or with health problems cover heating repairs and insulation.

Andrew Chaplin, Chief Executive at FILT said: ‘The figures released today by ONS only emphasise the amount of work that still needs to be done in order to tackle cold homes and their effect on the health and wellbeing of older and vulnerable people. FILT will continue to work with partners to source much-needed funding streams so that we reach more people in need.’

Paul Smith, Director at Foundations said: ‘Home Improvement Agencies are at the forefront of prevention offering a wide range of services that help people stay warm and well in their homes. Energy efficiency measures such as drought-proofing or boiler repairs can often enhance people’s wellbeing and prevent cold-related ill health.’

[1] http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/subnational-health2/excess-winter-mortality-in-england-and-wales/2014-15–provisional–and-2013-14–final-/index.html


Research reveals impact of adapted homes on independent living

An investigation by Foundations has revealed the impact that government support for home adaptations can have on supporting independent living and delaying a move into residential care.

It shows that those who have had adaptations and later move into care do so some four years later than those who have not had adaptations carried out via Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG).

DFG – the main source of government financial support for adaptations – not only helps people to stay in their own homes for longer, it can also generate substantial financial savings. The average DFG costs less than £7,000 compared with a residential care place costing around £29,000 a year.

Foundations – the national body for more than 200 not-for-profit home improvement and handyperson services throughout England  – has found that local authorities are starting to recognise the impact that DFG makes on their wider care costs.

This comes at the time when the absorption of DFG into the pooled NHS Better Care Fund, managed jointly by social services and NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups, could further show the huge social and economic benefits that home adaptations like a ramp, stairlift or level access shower can bring.

Some £220m of DFG funding has been paid into the Fund for 2015-16 and government guidance indicates adaptations should be considered in future spending plans. The research highlights the benefit of DFG-type work for increasingly pressured NHS and council budgets.

Foundations submitted a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to all local authorities in England with social care responsibilities. The request asked councils to look at the care needs of people depending on whether they had previously applied for a DFG to pay for major adaptations.

For people who have had to move into residential care, those who had previously received a DFG on average moved just before their 80th birthday and stayed there for two years. Those who hadn’t applied for a DFG moved when they were 76 and stayed in residential care for another six years.

The investigation also showed that people who need care at home require fewer hours of home help following adaptations – saving around £1,300 per year on average.

The findings come at a significant anniversary – it is 25 years since DFG was introduced to offer financial support for home adaptations. Its launch marked a breakthrough for all those working to promote independent living.

Paul Smith, Director of Foundations, said: “It makes sense that adapting your home means that you can live there independently for longer, but this research indicates that modifications such as stairlifts, level access showers and ramps really do help to delay people moving into care homes – by four years.

“We have an ageing population and this brings growing financial pressure on both the public purse and the finances of individuals. That’s why enabling people to live in their own homes has never been more important – home adaptations via DFG offer a cost-effective and empowering solution.”

The research highlighted how many councils can now link adaptations to social care spend despite most using different recording systems that could not be readily linked in the past.

With DFG funding now part of the Better Care Fund, this joining up of data will help commissioners look for evidence of impact to back up increasingly tough spending decisions.

Paul Smith added: “It’s a requirement of the Better Care Fund for the NHS and social care to link their information system using the NHS Number. I would like to see this extended to the IT systems used to manage DFG applications and other housing interventions so that all local authorities can track the benefits and also start to target people who may be at premature risk of moving into residential care.”

Find out more at www.foundations.uk.com


Half of low income working households struggling to afford to heat their homes

New research by the national charity Turn2us has found that one in two low income households are struggling to afford their energy costs, despite being in work. Amongst the hardest hit are people with disabilities, with over two in three (67%) reporting their struggles, and families, with almost two-thirds of working parents (65%) unable to meet these costs.

Worryingly, of those households who are struggling with energy costs, nearly half (48%) have done so for more than a year. The knock-on effect is severe, with a third (33%) forced to skip meals and over a fifth (21%) experiencing stress and other mental health problems. Furthermore, nearly two-fifths (39%) are struggling with other essential bills, with Council Tax topping the list of payments they’re behind on (30%).

As the weather turns colder, the research also uncovers how low income workers will cope with these costs through the winter. Of those households worried about their energy costs, a huge 71% feel they will have to cut back on or not use their heating, whilst over two-fifths (44%) said they would resort to cutting back on food. Nearly two in five (37%) anticipate that their energy bills will cause further stress and worry in the coming months.

There are 2.3 million households living in fuel poverty in England alone*, and it is estimated that nearly half of these are in work.** As debate continues around proposed cuts to the tax credits system, there is growing concern that low income working households’ finances could be even harder hit from next year.

Turn2us’ research also suggests a lack of awareness of the help that could be available to low income working households, or potential reluctance to access it. Of those who are struggling to pay their energy costs, only 12% have told their energy supplier about their situation, and only 5% have turned to an advice organisation for help. Three-quarters have not checked their eligibility for welfare benefits in the last twelve months, whilst a huge 83% are unaware that some energy suppliers have charitable trusts set up to help certain customers.

This winter, Turn2us is running its No Cold Homes campaign specifically to help more people who are unable to afford to heat their homes. The charity is encouraging anyone in financial hardship to use its free online service to see if they are eligible for welfare benefits, charitable grants and other support – additional income which could help them manage their energy costs over the colder months.
Simon Hopkins, Chief Executive of Turn2us said: “Our research paints a startling picture, revealing the extent to which households are struggling to heat their homes, even though they’re in work. It is clear that more needs to be done to help raise awareness of the financial support and other help available to people on low incomes to help them manage their energy costs.

We know that this is an issue that affects a wide range of people, and alongside working households, many others will suffer this winter. We believe that no one should have to live in a cold home. Through our campaign, we urge anyone struggling to check what support could be available.”

For more information, please visit www.turn2us.org.uk/NoColdHomes.

All figures, unless otherwise stated are from a survey conducted with Research Now in September 2015. Total sample size was 2,001 adults with annual household incomes of £30,000 and less before tax and deductions
*Source: Department of Energy and Climate Change 2015
**Source: Policy Exchange 2015
For more information on The Trussell Trust figures please contact: Head of Media, Molly Hodson molly@trusselltrust.org or Press Officer emma.thorogood@trusselltrust.org – 020 3137
3699.


Yorkshire Housing launch free handyperson service for Rotherham residents

Yorkshire Housing’s award-winning Home Improvement Agency (HIA) has launched a new free handyperson service to help older residents in Rotherham continue to live at home independently, safely and comfortably.

The new contract with Rotherham Borough Council will mean that older persons,  people with disabilities, life long limiting illness or those who are vulnerable, for example if they have been a victim of crime, will be entitled to an hour of free labour from the handyperson service.

To mark the launch new contract and the free service Rotherham Council’s Advisory Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Health Cllr David Roche visited HIA offices.

The handyperson service carries out small repairs and fits minor adaptations such as grab rails. The Home Improvement Agency also offers free energy efficiency and home safety advice, and support with funding applications for larger home adaptations.

Rotherham Council’s Advisory Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Health Cllr David Roche said: “The handy person service can help with a wide variety of small jobs around the home; tasks which those in need would otherwise struggle to get done, and which can lead to frustration and stress.

“We are particularly pleased that we can offer each person an hour of this service for free, helping to ease a vulnerable person’s worries. We are very much looking forward to working with Yorkshire Housing in the coming year.” 

Senior home improvement agency manager Kate Haley said: “Our service is all about making sure people can live independently without home safety or security hazards getting in the way.

“We’re really pleased to be working in partnership with Rotherham Borough Council to offer an hour of free labour. We have a 99 per cent customer satisfaction rating and all our handy people are specially trained to support older and vulnerable people.

 “We find that making small changes can often have a big impact on people’s lives– for example fitting a couple of grab rails and securing some loose carpet can make a real difference.”

Yorkshire Housing’s Home Improvement Agency’s handyperson service was recently commended at the HIA and HP Awards.

Further information about the Rotherham Home Improvement agency can be found at https://www.yorkshirehousing.co.uk/home-improvement or by calling 0114 256 4270.

The HIA also offers service in Barnsley and Sheffield and in North Yorkshire.

 


NHS Stay Well This Winter campaign takes to the road

The Stay Well This Winter campaign goes on the road today as it drives home vital messages to the public.

The campaign is aimed at helping people prepare against the onset of winter and to raise awareness among those in key risk groups – such as the frail and elderly and those with long term conditions and respiratory illnesses.

Five teams will be highlighting the campaign at shopping centres throughout the country over the course of the next five weeks and telling people how they can best ward off common cold weather-related illnesses.

A joint NHS England and Public Health England initiative, Stay Well This Winter was officially launched last month and is supported by a national TV, Press and digital campaign.

The roadshows kick off today and will appear for two days at Wallsend in Newcastle, Salford in Manchester, Hinkley in Leicestershire, Bishops Stortford and Norwich. Over the course of the next five weeks each show will move around the regions visiting around 67 sites nationwide in total.

The Stay Well This Winter campaign began last month with a national flu vaccination programme for children. This year the programme is being extended to children in school years 1 and 2, and aims to help three million children between the ages of 2 and 6. For the first time, the youngest primary school children in 17,000 schools will be eligible to receive the free nasal spray vaccine, making this the largest school-based vaccination programme ever in England.

At the roadshow events, expert advice and support will be provided from the roadshow nurse and staff. In addition, leaflets and posters will inform the public about some of the key actions which will help them stay well this winter including:

  • Making sure you get the flu jab if eligible
  • Keeping yourself warm – heat your home to least 18 degrees C (or 65F) if you can
  • If you start to feel unwell, even if it’s just a cough or a cold, then get help from your pharmacist quickly before it gets more serious
  • Making sure you get your prescription medicines before pharmacies close on Christmas Eve
  • Always taking prescribed medicines as directed

Keith Willett, National Director for Acute Care for NHS England said: “Through the Stay Well This Winter roadshows, we are making sure we give people the information they need to help them to look after themselves and also to know where to go for urgent advice – whether it’s pharmacies, NHS Choices, NHS111 or A&E.”

Professor Paul Cosford, Director for Health Protection and Medical Director at Public Health England added: “The Stay Well This Winter roadshow is a great opportunity for people to familiarise themselves with the steps they can take to protect themselves, their families and their neighbours over the colder months. The roadshow events will offer advice and information about the precautions people can take against winter and a nurse will be available to answer any more specific questions that people may have. We’d urge people from the local community to attend to find out more.”

  • The Stay Well This Winter roadshow will be visiting destinations across England for five weeks from Monday 2 November until the 5 December 2015.
  • For further information about how you and your family can stay well this winter, please visit nhs.uk/staywell.

HIA uses BBC Local Radio to highlight funding available

Mark Deer of Cornwall Home Solutions spoke to BBC Radio Cornwall at the end of September to promote the availability of their FILT Gas Safe funding.

The phones were red hot after the interview on 29 September, increasing from three referrals at the time to forty referrals after the show with another 12 households on the waiting list.

Mark spoke to Laurence Reed on the lunchtime show highlighting how winter is on the way and it’s a good time to think about ensuring all your gas appliances are safe.   Cornwall Home Solutions received £5000 of funding from the Gas Safe scheme and will now be using this to work their way through the list of those who called after the show and are eligible for a boiler service.


Home Improvement Agency pen portraits

Foundations has published a series of pen portraits illustrating good practice within the home improvement agency sector. These examples of innovative work focus on Integration, Partnership working, Disabled Facilities Grants, Innovation, Dementia and Winter Warmth.

Innovation – Revival HIA 

Integration – Sunderland HIA

Dementia – Care & Repair Leeds

DFG – Papworth Trust

Winter warmth – Homelife Carlisle

Partnership – Lincolnshire HIA


2015/16 Cold Weather Plan for England

The Cold Weather Plan for England gives advice on preparing for the effects of winter weather on people’s health and was first published in 2011. There are many avoidable deaths each winter in England, primarily due to heart and lung conditions from cold temperatures rather than hypothermia. The reasons why more people die in winter are complex and interlinked with fuel poverty, poor housing and health inequalities as well as circulating infectious diseases and the extent of snow and ice. The winter period not only sees a significant rise in deaths but also a substantial increase in illnesses.

The Cold Weather Plan for England helps to raise the public’s awareness of the harm to health from cold, and provides guidance on how to prepare for and respond to cold weather which can affect everybody’s health. It triggers actions in the NHS, public health, social care and other community organisations, to support vulnerable people who have health, housing or economic circumstances that increase their risk of harm. Strong local leadership and partnership working at all levels across sectors is seen as vital to tackle the range of causes and reduce the number of ‘excess’ deaths that are observed each winter.

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/468160/CWP_2015.pdf


New FILT Chief Executive

FILT are delighted to announce that Andy Chaplin has agreed to take on the role of Chief Officer for the charity from 1 November 2015. Previously Andy headed the national body for Home Improvement Agencies for five years during which time he also provided a supportive role to the FILT Board to help them develop the growth plans for FILT.

Considerable experience was gained by Andy  successfully leading the development of new and existing services for socially excluded groups over the past ten years and more –  drawing on the management skills he developed and honed in his former career with Barclays Bank

Andy is also a Trustee (and chair designate) of Manor Gardens Welfare Trust delivering health and wellbeing services in LB Islington.  In the past he has also served on the board of the Community Development Finance Association.


New FILT Patrons

We are delighted to announce two new Patrons of FILT – Lord Richard Best and Sir George Young, joining Baroness Kay Andrews. Lord Best, OBE is a British social housing leader and member of the House of Lords.  Baron Young of Cookham was previously Chair of Trustees for FILT.  For more information visit filt.org.uk/about-us/our-trustees/


New St Helens Support at Home service launched

Foundations Independent Living Trust is delighted to be working alongside The British Red Cross and Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust to support older people living in St Helens.

The St Helens Support at Home team of Red Cross staff, volunteers and a health trainer are based in the local area and are able to offer practical and emotional support at home to help improve health and wellbeing and maintain independence.

The team are able to refer vulnerable people to St Helens Home Improvement Agency for advice on home adaptations and keeping their home warm and funding is available from FILT for eligible individuals.


FILT supports the fifth annual Gas Safety Week

The fifth annual Gas Safety Week (14 – 19 Sept 2015) will see organisations across the UK working together to raise awareness of the dangers of poorly maintained gas appliances, which cause gas leaks, fires, explosions and carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. In the last year, at least 68,000 homes in the UK escaped deadly gas incidents such as these, by engineers switching off dangerous appliances[1]. Nearly one in two of these incidents were caused because a gas appliance had not been regularly serviced and had been left in a poor state[2].

With 20 deaths and 1,000 gas-related injuries in the last three years[3], it’s vital that people make sure their gas appliances are safety checked every year by a registered engineer. Anyone working on gas appliances while not being Gas Safe registered, is working illegally.

We are also delighted that the independent Gas Safe Charity has confirmed a further award of funding to Foundations Independent Living Trust.

FILT helps older, vulnerable and disabled people to stay warm, safe and well their homes. They do this by distributing funds to home improvement agencies and handypersons services across England. The funding will be used for completion of specified gas safety works for vulnerable clients.

FILT has been working on behalf of the Gas Safe Charity throughout the past year to provide help to 825 households through vital work such as gas safety checks, boiler servicing and repairs, pipework repairs and checks and repairs to gas fires. Gordon Lishman CBE, chair of the charity, emphasised the value and achievements of the programme, which has been successful in doubling the charity’s support by accessing grants from other sources: “we are impressed by the effectiveness of this initiative in supporting people who need that extra bit of help to carry on managing in their own homes”.

Vulnerable people such as Mr Jones who is 76 and lives alone. He suffers with dementia, arthritis and heart failure, is in constant pain and has poor mobility.

Due to confusion and poor mobility, Mr Jones was sleeping downstairs in a chair.  He had a gas fire in the living room which was not working properly and therefore needed disconnecting.  Due to his illness he had no awareness of gas safety and had previously left the gas cooker on, sometimes not ignited.

Mr Jones was unable to pay for the necessary changes to be made to his property which would keep him safe.  He was awarded £246 through the Gas Safety Charity to disconnect the mains gas supply and make changes so he could live more safely in his home.

Jonathan Samuel, managing director for Gas Safe Register, said: “We know from our own investigations that one in six gas appliances in the UK are unsafe[4], meaning far too many people are victims of preventable gas related incidents. It’s great to have the support of Foundations this Gas Safety Week so that we can work together to raise public awareness of gas safety and reduce the number of dangerous gas appliances lurking in the homes of the UK’s 23 million gas consumers.”

 

Follow these three simple top tips to stay gas safe:

•             Get all of your gas appliances safety checked once a year by a registered engineer and sign up to a free reminder service at www.StayGasSafe.co.uk

•             Make sure your engineer is legal and safe, by making sure they are registered with Gas Safe Register, the UK’s official gas authority. You can check by calling 0800 408 5500 or visiting www.GasSafeRegister.co.uk

•             Check for warning signs your appliances aren’t working correctly, such as a lazy yellow flame instead of a crisp blue one, black marks on or around the appliance and too much condensation in the room.


[1] Gas Safe Register surveyed 1,658 registered engineers in June 2014. Amongst surveyed gas engineers, 57 per cent said they had switched off a deadly appliance in the last year. There are 120,000 registered engineers, so 57 per cent equates to at least 68,000 homes avoiding a deadly gas incident.

[2] 45 per cent of engineers surveyed said the reason they had to turn off a gas appliance in the past 12 months was because the appliance had been poorly maintained.

[3] 20 people died from gas related incidents in the UK in the last three years and 961 non-fatalities were reported (Source: http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/tables/ridgas.xls statistics 2011-14 (provisional))

[4] Gas Safe Register has inspected gas appliances in 121,587 homes across Great Britain for the period 1 April 2010 – 1 May 2014. One in six (17.1%) were identified as unsafe.


How can organisations help people with hoarding tendencies?

The Compulsive Hoarding Project began as an innovative two year research and development project between the Orbit Coventry Care and Repair team, a Home Improvement Agency, Coventry University and the Knowledge Transfer Partnership. The initial aims of the project were to explore the most effective ways of addressing compulsive hoarding at a local level, as well as addressing the environmental impact of hoarding, promoting healthy living and exploring the social isolation many people with hoarding tendencies experience.

Read the full article on the CIH website


Making home adaptations a health priority

This week has seen yet more negative articles about older people, now labelling those who choose to live in their current home as ‘hogging family homes’. Not only does this negative language drive intergenerational strife, but it also deflects attention from the underlying problems of a dysfunctional housing market.

This emotive promotion of the benefits of moving to retirement housing doesn’t exactly support our efforts to make the case for the continuation of help with home adaptations, the best and often the only housing solution for the majority of older people, particularly those on limited incomes.

Read the blog on the Care & Repair England website


HIA sector at the heart of NICE cold homes guidance

On 5 March NICE issued new guidance on how to reduce deaths and illness caused by cold homes.

Aimed at commissioners and service providers, the guideline presents a major opportunity for the home improvement agency sector and its charitable arm, FILT (Foundations Independent Living Trust).

It also ties in with the Department of Energy & Climate Change’s newly published fuel poverty strategy, Cutting the cost of keeping warm: a fuel poverty strategy for England and the NHS Five Year Forward View, a vision for the NHS which places strong emphasis on disease prevention and service integration in the future.

How HIAs can deliver NICE recommendations

Back in 2014, Foundations, the national body for home improvement agencies, co-ordinated the sector’s contribution to the NICE consultation on excess winter deaths and illness.

So we’re especially pleased to see home improvement agencies referred to explicitly throughout the new guidance.

NICE outlines the vital role that HIAs can play in two key recommendations:

– Creating a single-point-of-contact referral system so that staff in contact with vulnerable people have a quick and easy way to get help from national and local service providers. “These are likely to include home improvement agencies.” (Page 8)

– Providing access to tailored services that address common barriers to tackling cold homes. “For example, access to home improvement agencies that can fix a leaking roof.” (Page 10)

How FILT can deliver NICE recommendations

Our charitable arm FILT can also provide access to tailored solutions for people living in cold homes. FILT is already working at national level with energy providers and energy charities, distributing small grants to HIAs that help home owners (many on low incomes or with health problems) to cover heating repairs and insulation. Applications are turned around quickly, within less than 24 hours on average, so vulnerable people don’t have to wait long.

How Foundations can help the sector

Foundations is passionate about building capacity amongst HIAs and also within their charity, FILT, to ensure the sector is better placed and more resilient to protect more vulnerable people by responding quickly where appropriate.

Foundations is on hand to provide analysis and advice to home improvement agencies wishing to frame a response to their local health and wellbeing board around this NICE guideline. Please refer to our Housing, Health and Care Integration Toolkit or contact the team on 0845 864 5210 info@foundations.uk.com for support.

Please don’t hesitate to contact the Foundations or FILT teams to find out more about our services and how we are helping to tackle deaths and illnesses caused by cold homes.

 


New programme will help thousands of vulnerable people living in cold homes

SSE has awarded FILT £850,000 in funding to improve the homes of vulnerable people through to March 2016.

The Warm at Home programme will reach 4,500 vulnerable householders and carry out 2,200 warm homes jobs needed to keep people safe and warm.

By repairing boilers, draught proofing and improving heating efficiency, Warm at Home aims to make a real difference for people who might otherwise have nowhere to turn.

Work on the ground will be delivered by 32 Home Improvement Agencies (HIAs) operating across 133 local authority areas, from Carlisle to Kent and from Somerset to Suffolk. HIAs are local organisations 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. The agencies will work collaboratively at local level with other organisations – not only energy efficiency and fuel poverty networks but also wider health and care organisations.

FILT has engaged the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research at Sheffield Hallam University to undertake a study into the impacts of the Warm At Home service, looking at how far it has a positive effect  –  not only by keeping vulnerable people warm but also by preventing hazards and worsening health.

Stephen Burke, Chair of FILT said: “We are delighted to start this new partnership with SSE, which will ensure much-needed help reaches vulnerable and older people who might otherwise be at risk in their own homes.”

FILT already works with two other major energy companies and a national energy charity and has a growing reputation for helping partners to reach those most in need on a national scale via its network of local HIAs.

These programmes of assistance build on the success the charity had with a national programme backed financially by the Department of Health during the cold winter of 2012/13.

The results so far show that this outreach model is working. Over the past two years, FILT has helped more than 7,000 older and vulnerable people by distributing over £1m in charitable funds for works ranging from boiler repairs to home energy assessments and electrical safety measures.