Winners of this year’s HIA Awards – honouring the work of Home Improvement Agencies and Handyperson Services across England – have been announced at a House of Lords ceremony.
Home Improvement Agencies (HIAs) enable vulnerable people to live independently in their own homes by helping with everything from a dripping tap through to DIY SOS style adaptation projects.
Organised by Foundations, the national body for HIAs, the annual awards – sponsored by ProCare – recognise the way in which the 200-strong HIA sector is contributing to the prevention and early intervention agenda in helping to link up health, housing and social care.
For the second year running the awards have resulted in joint winners of HIA Service of the Year, with Lincolnshire HIA and Middlesbrough Staying Put sharing the title this year.
Lincolnshire HIA played a leading role in delivering Lincolnshire County Council’s Wellbeing Service as a key member of Lincs Independent Living Partnership (LILP). It helped to reduce falls and tackle social isolation and fuel poverty through a range of interventions and dealt with more than 5,000 referrals in 2017-18.
The Wellbeing Service delivered a 97 per cent customer satisfaction rate and generated a social return of £4.15 per £1 invested, 10 per cent above the national benchmark.
Middlesbrough Staying Put – an HIA run by Middlesbrough Council – has grown from a small grants department to a comprehensive prevention service that’s now playing a vital role in redesigning health and social care services.
As well as developing a wide range of support that includes everything from Telecare to a successful hospital discharge service, the HIA has worked hard to collaborate with partners and share learning with neighbouring local authorities.
The award for Home Adaptations Service of the Year, sponsored by Altro, was won by Homelife Carlisle for its success in speeding up home adaptations by working with occupational therapists and other partners in order to improve the referrals process.
Run by Carlisle Council, the HIA has overseen a major increase in support via Disabled Facilities Grants (DFGs) – the main source of local funding for housing adaptations. That includes a 55 per cent rise in mandatory DFGs and an incredible 130 per cent increase in discretionary grants.
WE Care & Repair, a charitable HIA covering four local authority areas in the West of England, scooped the Handyperson Service of the Year title.
It carries out a wide range of minor adaptations that help to reduce or prevent hospital admissions and enable vulnerable people to live independently.
Over the last year it has expanded services by 50 per cent through ‘a positive strategy, new innovations in management, leveraging in funding, and collaboration’ and made the HIA more sustainable in the process. During 2017-18 some 8,690 customers reported being able to live more independently as a result of WE Care & Repair’s support.
Care & Repair Worcestershire won this year’s Innovation Award for developing the first non-means tested Dementia Dwelling Grant, which supports people to live well with dementia through the provision of specialist adaptations.
A full evaluation will be published at the end of 2018, but early feedback indicates participants are more able to look after themselves and feel safer, less lonely and are happier with home life.
This year’s Collaboration Award has gone to Care Network, an HIA covering Blackburn with Darwen. Examples of its work include a safe trader scheme involving 49 local businesses and the Care Network Hub, a one-stop shop for information on health and wellbeing activities that brings together 80 local partners. The latter saw the hub generate more than 3,400 referrals to partners last year.
HEART Warwickshire is the winner of the Commissioning Award. It has seconded Warwickshire County Council occupational therapists so that they can work alongside housing officers. HEART is helping to keep more people safe, secure and warm in their own home by offering holistic support and advice on home improvements and disabled adaptations.
The FILT Delivery Partner of the Year is Mosscare St Vincent’s, which delivers services in Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale.
Foundations Independent Living Trust (FILT) is the charitable arm of Foundations and it has been working closely with Mosscare St Vincent’s to maximise the impact of available funding to tackle gas safety and fuel poverty.
Representatives from government departments and organisations including Public Health England, HACT, Centre for Ageing Better, The Royal College of Occupational Therapists and Disabled Living Foundation joined finalists at the House of Lords awards ceremony.
Awards host Lord Best said:
“It’s absolutely vital that we ensure vulnerable people are safe at home and enable them to live healthier, more independent lives as we shift the emphasis towards preventive services. These awards highlight how Home Improvement Agencies are rising to that challenge.”
Paul Smith, Director of Foundations, said:
“What’s striking about this year’s awards is the way in which HIAs across the country are finding innovative ways to maximise the impact of funding and resources. We’re seeing more and more collaboration and that can only bode well for the integration of housing, health and social care.”