Guest blog, Lincolnshire Home Independence Agency
We were thrilled to receive Foundations’ HIA Service of the Year 2018 award at the House of Lords on 18 July 2018. At our bi-annual Staff & Board Communications event the following day, members of staff and our Board of Trustees were thanked in person for their contribution and were able to celebrate together. Mick King, our CEO, commented: ‘Whilst the award recognizes our achievements as lead delivery partner of the Wellbeing Service, it also represents an independent validation of a new, innovative five-year strategic plan which we have formulated to enable us to reach more vulnerable people despite pressures on local welfare and health budgets’.
We’re a small, independent charity serving the whole of Greater Lincolnshire, a vast area embracing sparsely-populated rural communities and diverse urban areas, and with an overall population ageing ahead of the national trend. We offer four key services: home adaptations, handyperson services, equipment to help with everyday life and information, advice and support.
Given the needs and challenges of our operating environment, it has long been our policy to exploit opportunities afforded by collaboration. For example, alongside fellow members of Lincs Independent Living Partnership (LILP), we co-designed and delivered the Lincolnshire Wellbeing Service from 2014 - 2018, which provided caseworker support to address issues typically associated with mobility, finances and social isolation. In 2017/18, its fourth year of operation, the Wellbeing Service became busier than ever, with unprecedented volumes of external referrals.
LILP members have also developed self-funded services in response to market needs, pool resources to achieve internal cost-savings and are constantly horizon scanning to see how they can help commissioners to fulfill their duties in the future.
Uncertainty surrounding public funding and the tendency for local district councils to take agency delivery of DFG-funded adaptations in-house obviously represent ongoing risks for our charity, and we have sought to mitigate them by implementing an ambitious, five-year strategic and financial restructuring. We’re building on our core strength (providing a home adaptations service for self-funders since 2006), and developing a marketing and communications strategy to target particular groups of self-funders (such as cash rich / time poor and younger old people). We also promote our expertise in providing specialist adaptations, for people with dementia and / or sensory impairment.
As a home improvement agency, we have also taken the unprecedented step of establishing our own core funding stream by setting up a wholly-owned trading subsidiary, LHIA Adaptations Ltd (LAL). The new company undertakes major home adaptations and handyperson jobs, gift-aiding surpluses back to LHIA. LAL is registered with the Contractor’s Health & Safety Assessment Scheme (CHAS), Constructionline, the SafeContractor Scheme and TrustMark, and is certified for Non-licensed Asbestos Removal.
We have looked beyond county boundaries to secure opportunities to deliver self and DFG-funded home adaptations, and last year signed a three-year Service Level Agreement with North Lincolnshire Council (NLC) to deliver DFG-funded major adaptations. At the same time, this affords our subsidiary LAL opportunities to undertake the building work. Additionally, NLC is referring to LHIA enquirers not eligible for a DFG, with a view to self-funding.
We exploit any local or national funding opportunities which align with our mission to help people live in the homes they love. Examples are those provided by the East Midlands Affordable Warmth Campaign, Smart Energy GB in Communities Fund and the Big Energy Saving Network, via which we help people keep on top of energy bills and safe and warm in winter.
Opportunities to reach more vulnerable people are secured via increasing collaboration with a range of local public and third sector organisations, with whom we are establishing mutual referral pathways. We have always prided ourselves on offering a holistic service, referring customers to other services (internal or external) depending on need.
We continue to offer information, advice and caseworker support free of charge to all customers, and it is intended that this will be increasingly funded via fundraising, as we develop our capability in this area. In 2017/18 we participated in The Big Give online match funding campaign for the first time, securing £2,000 towards information, advice and caseworker support. Staff helped to engage an online audience by accepting challenges, perhaps the most notable being Jordan, our Technical Administrator, who had his head shaved on Facebook live!
Help to live safely in the home she loves – Joan’s story
Joan’s home obviously holds a lot of happy memories – her husband built it and it’s where they raised their five children together. Some of her children live close by, and Joan enjoys a weekly get-together with a big family now including grand-children and great grand-children.
As mobility around the home was becoming an issue, an outside ramp was installed and Joan’s old bathroom replaced with a new wet room.
‘Visitors say how well finished the new wet room is!’, says Joan. ‘The adaptation makes me feel more in control of my life. It helps me live safely in the home I love, and gives me and my family more peace of mind.
Home adaptation enhances mobility and wellbeing
‘It’s amazing!’ say Caroline (left) and Eloise of their new wheelchair-friendly property extension which includes an entrance lobby and specially adapted bathroom.
Before the extension was built, accessing their home was a daily challenge as Caroline had to lift Eloise and wheelchair over the door step and through a narrow door. Moreover, the bathroom facilities were inadequate and stressful for Eloise.
Now their home incorporates an entrance ramp, widened doorways, spacious lobby and bathroom with facilities which specifically meet Eloise’s needs.
Caroline comments: ‘The builders went out of the way to ensure that our new extension was ready for Christmas. Eloise is very happy with her new, specially-adapted bath and it’s really helped increase her mobility. And the entrance lobby doubles up as a den in the evening where we can sit down together and read books, which we both love.’
Words and images provided by Lincolnshire Home Independence Agency. To find out more visit www.lincshia.org