Home Improvement Agency Awards celebrate efforts to support independent living

Two pioneering organisations providing vital, tailored services to thousands of vulnerable people have been jointly crowned Home Improvement Agency Service of the Year.

West of England (WE) Care & Repair and Millbrook Healthcare received their awards at a ceremony held at the House of Lords hosted by Lord Richard Best, and sponsored by Pro Care, Whale Pumps and Mira Showers.

The annual Home Improvement Agency Awards, organised by Foundations, celebrate the work of 170 social value driven organisations throughout England that provide adaptations and other services designed to help disabled and older people live independently in their own homes.

West of England Care & Repair, who is based in Bristol and also won the title in 2014 and 2016, managed to improve its performance despite having reduced funding. It also scooped The Innovation Award for the way in which it has redesigned its bathroom adaptations service for self-funders. The work has not only made a huge difference to clients but also helped make the organisation more sustainable.

Millbrook Healthcare impressed judges with its efforts to champion the work of home improvement agencies and its sharing of best practice. It has worked with local authorities to make assessments for Disabled Facilities Grant more flexible and reduced delivery times to just 12 weeks. This has resulted in more homes being adapted to make them accessible – reducing demand for care services in the process.

Paul Dilley’s work at Carlisle City Council offering support to flood victims in the aftermath of the severe storms in winter 2015 saw him made FILT Champion.

FILT - Foundations Independent Living Trust, the charitable arm of Foundations - secured funding from npower and the Department of Communities and Local Government for his role as floods officer at the council in recognition of the need for extra full-time support to help people get back on track and make their homes more resilient to future flooding.

Revival HIA in Stoke-on-Trent, which is part of Staffordshire Housing Group, is this year’s Handyperson Service of the Year. It has built close working relationships with local commissioners to support hospital discharge, winter warmth, victims of domestic violence and people at risk of crime. 97% of customers said they would recommend the service to others

Cheshire East Care & Repair has been crowned Home Adaptations Service of the Year, an award sponsored by accessible bathroom and kitchen manufacturer AKW. Run by Cheshire East Council, the team has streamlined the way they deliver Disabled Facilities Grants by reducing bureaucracy and focussing on how they can reduce admissions to hospital and residential care

 Key features of their new policy include increasing the maximum grant amount from £30,000 to £50,000, supporting people to move to a more suitable property (where that is appropriate) and providing grants to foster carers of disabled children.

This year’s Collaboration Award has gone to Lincolnshire Home Improvement Agency for its work as a founder member of Lincs Independent Living Partnership (LILP). LILP is now recognised nationally as an exemplar for collaborative working, bringing together a range of organisations to provide commissioners with an integrated county wide Wellbeing Service with a social return of £4.15 per £1.00 invested.

Doncaster Home Improvement Agency – a model developed by Doncaster Borough Council and their Arm’s Length Management Organisation St Leger Homes of Doncaster, won the HIA Commissioning Award.  The HIA is still in its infancy and the commissioning exercise has led to a service specification fit for accreditation.  Designed to deal with falls in the home and a range of other initiatives, providing proactive support before a crisis situation occurs, the project is setting firm foundations as the Doncaster HIA develops further.

Winners and shortlisted organisations were joined by representatives from the Department for Communities and Local Government and leading charities including HACT, National Energy Action, Independent Age and Age UK at a ceremony in the House of Lords to celebrate their achievements.

Awards host Lord Best said: “Once again, these awards demonstrate the innovative work being undertaken by home improvement agencies across the country.

“They are playing a crucial role in enabling people to live safely in their own homes and in the process are helping to relieve the pressure on health and social care services.”

Paul Smith, director of Foundations, said: “What is particularly inspiring is the way in which HIAs have sought to develop robust and sustainable services to meet local health and care priorities, innovating and collaborating with others to deliver tangible outcomes for their customers.”

Photos from the awards ceremony