HIA Covid Response: The Sensational Efforts of HIAs
The Lancaster inhouse HIA was able to respond quickly to the Pandemic. All HIA staff were fully capable of working remotely with full access to all systems and support services. The HIA has formed part of the councils Covid Housing Response team, providing daily updates with regular online meetings with Senior Housing Managers. The Head of Housing Services is working with the Lancashire Resilience Forum, supporting vulnerable residents. This has provided the HIA with regular updates from key organisations, including the Police, Fire Service, and the NHS with information on things such as the number of spare beds in ICU.
The HIA quickly established an enhanced hospital discharge service, working closely with the NHS colleagues to enable patients to be discharged home safely. Our Handypersons are available out of hours to ensure we are available to provide evening and weekend support for discharges. Arrangements were made to ensure adequate supplies of materials and PPE to support the service.
In response to the Pandemic the council’s priorities have been redirected to support vulnerable residents. The HIA Caseworkers and Technical Officers are spending 50% of their time undertaking door to door welfare visits to the districts most vulnerable residents. Around 300 council staff have been redeployed into this role and so far, nearly 18,000 vulnerable residents have been contacted. All staff undertaking the welfare checks can make direct referrals to the HIA if the client has any kind of urgent repair/adaptation needs. The HIA also established a list of approved contractors, who were available to residents for emergency work, including Gas Engineers and Electricians.
The HIA has an agreement with the County Council to fit minor adaptations. This service has continued throughout the lockdown, wherever possible. The number of new orders being received has reduced, however the HIA has agreed a temporary arrangement with the county council enabling the HIA trusted assessor staff to assess clients for minor adaptations and complete the work whilst at the property, without the need to refer clients to the county council.
The HIA is also responsible for delivering the councils DFG programme and has been able to continue to progress urgent DFG cases wherever possible. The HIA has now developed new procedures to enable us to restart the DFG programme safely, following the easing of the restrictions. The number of referrals from the County Council OT service has dropped significantly since the lockdown. However, the HIA Trusted Assessor caseworkers are continuing to proactively find clients in need of adaptations and complete assessments via our Independent Occupational Therapist.
The current Covid-19 crisis helps to highlight to valuable role which Home Improvement Agencies can play in providing a flexible, person-centred response to meet individual needs. This is illustrated in this case study from Peabody, which delivers home improvement agency services across south-east England.
Foundations was contacted by the Better Care Support Team who in turn had been contacted by a hospital trust wanting to arrange the prompt discharge of a patient who was ready to be discharged, with a package of care arranged by Adult Social Care. However, the discharge was being prevented because the patient was moving to a property which lacked furniture and white goods. The patient did not have any money to meet these costs herself.
The hospital was put in touch with Peabody which delivers a Home Improvement Agency service in the district in which the patient lives. Within three days a number of items were delivered to the property including a single bed, sofa, arm chair, microwave, kettle, pots, pans, dinner service, cutlery, coffee table and various other bits and pieces so the main essential items are in. The delivery of a fridge freezer was also arranged.
Most items have been donated by work colleagues, but funding was sourced for the bed and fridge freezer.
As part of their wider service Peabody has now delivered around 1000 free emergency food packs which were put together from a Peabody community centre in London using their community café supply network. A letter from Peabody accompanied the packs with general information, contact information and local useful numbers. Peabody was able to set up these arrangements at an early stage in the crisis with the first food delivery and distribution on the 30th March and this has happened weekly since then. Peabody has also been adding puzzle books and magazines as well to provide a personal touch which has been really appreciated by recipients.