Pivotal Role

Handyperson Services play a pivotal role as the ‘eyes and ears’ of communities in keeping vulnerable people safe and healthy in their own homes, according to our new report.

But these ‘unsung heroes’ are facing multiple challenges in the shape of a complex commissioning environment and the growth of the gig economy.

Handyperson Services

Handyperson Services are commissioned by councils to carry out a wide range of tasks, from ‘odd jobs’ such as repairs to home safety checks – for example, removing trip hazards – to adaptations. Over the last decade, they have become increasingly involved in helping people to access assistive technology and telecare.

Such is the level of trust they have built up over the last 25 years, they are often the first ‘public service’ that a vulnerable householder will call. A handyperson is able to pick up on other issues such as social isolation and help the person get support.

The Handyperson Services: Defining the Added Value study, published by Foundations, shows:

  • 54% of local authorities either provide or commission handyperson services – delivered by in-house or independent not-for-profit home improvement agencies.
  • All labour – and some materials – is free of charge in 41% of services (compared with 34% in 2011).
  • 45% provide services that aid timely discharge from hospital, for example by ensuring the person’s home is safe and fully equipped for them to return to.

However, the report finds that such a vast range of interventions is rarely covered by one local commissioner. Handyperson Services find themselves delivering different contracts with varying terms and conditions that make it difficult to play the very role they are best at – carrying out a variety of jobs at the same time.

It adds: “This creates a tension, which can lead to compromises for either the provider or the commissioner. The answer is to put a realistic value on the added value – and to pay for it.”

Handyperson Services Delivering Added Value

Handyperson Services: Defining the Added Value

The study highlights a number of examples of how Handyperson Services provide added value, including:

  • Middlesbrough Staying Put, run by Middlesbrough Council, which has trained staff in its Middlesbrough Mobile Adapt and Mend Service (MMAMS) to complete a preliminary wellbeing assessment. This regularly results in other services being requested which can be booked there and then using an app.
  • County Durham Handyperson Service has supported over 77,710 customers and delivered over 136,000 tasks over the last 10 years. They estimate that every £1 invested in their service realises approximately £2.64 in costed benefits. This equates to more than £1m of savings for health and social care.
  • Manchester Care & Repair reports that 90% of initial assessment visits from its Handyperson Service result in an onward referral for another service. All operatives are trained in how to deliver a comprehensive assessment for home safety and security; recognise and respond to signs and symptoms of elder abuse; and deal sensitively with clients who may be living with dementia or physical disability.

Report Conclusion

The report concludes that the inclusion of Disabled Facilities Grant – which is used to help people live independently, for example by paying for adaptations – in the Better Care Fund means there is a mechanism to improve the commissioning and targeting of Handyperson Services.

“[It] provides a means to jointly agree plans across housing, health and care and the focus on reducing delayed transfers of care, avoidable admissions and the number of people going into residential care provides a driver to commission preventative services targeted at those most in need – whether they are in hospital or at risk in the community.”