It has been announced by Huw Lewis AM, Minister for Housing, Regeneration and Heritage that the Care & Repair movement in Wales is to receive new funding of £1.5 million for Independent Living Grants (ILG) to help older people in Wales remain safe and well in their own homes.
The £1.5million will be distributed to the twenty-two Care & Repair agencies in Wales and will be spent on home adaptations such as stair lifts and walk in showers. The objective of this grant is to help address ‘waiting lists’ for adaptations, to maximise independence and to help relieve pressures on hospital acute admissions and to help speed up hospital discharge.
Not only will this grant improve the lives of older people in Wales, it will also save substantial amounts of money for the NHS and social services. Adapting a person’s existing home is far more cost effective than that person going into residential care, or even hospital. It is estimated that for every £1 spent on adapting a person’s home from very minor adaptations, £7.50 is saved from health and social services budgets. The average cost of a Disabled Facilities Grant is £8,000, and this has been estimated to keep each person out of residential care for an average of 4 years, giving a saving of £100,000 per case to social services budgets. It is easy to see how these savings are calculated when the cost of a hip replacement surgery is about £30,000, bed blocking in Wales has been estimated to cost the NHS in Wales £30million a year, and one residential care placement by social services costs around £28,000 a year.
Huw Lewis, Minister for Housing, Regeneration and Heritage said:
“Small changes can make a huge difference and that is especially true in the case of the Care and Repair service. Minor home adaptations can help a person remain in their home and live independently with the dignity they deserve.
“The service also helps ease pressures on health and residential care, preventing unnecessary stays in hospital or care homes.
“I am delighted that Welsh Government funds are being used to help make such a difference to people’s lives.”
Speaking ahead of a visit to her home by Huw Lewis, Housing Minister, Mrs. Jill Taylor, a client of Care & Repair RCT (part of Cynon Tâf Community Housing Group) had this to say about her experience:
“I’m 62 and I’ve got Multiple Sclerosis. I’m not in a wheelchair but I‘ve got difficulty walking and I get disabling fatigue. It’s just over a year since Care & Repair came out to visit me and assess my situation. I was having real difficulty getting up and downstairs and had no downstairs toilet. I was feeling really old and fed up and feeling I couldn’t go through another winter with things as they were. Social Services agreed I needed downstairs facilities but could not offer any help. I contacted Care &Repair because the house needed some urgent maintenance as it was leaking but when they came out, Nerys their home visitor said Care &Repair could also help with building a downstairs extension for me.
“Care & Repair did everything – found an architect and then a builder and then supervised and managed the whole process. The builders came in September and finished the following February.
“I won’t pretend it was all easy but I feel incredibly fortunate because having the new extension has completely transformed my life. The daily struggle is a thing of the past. Now I’ve got some spare energy and time for friends and I am feeling so much safer and happier. For people like me who can’t do a lot and get very tired, the prospect of dealing with lots of people and managing the stresses and strains of building work is as daunting as actually having the work done. This is why the service that Care & Repair provide is so marvelous. As well as supervising the building work they take care of all the contracts and the money and if there’s a problem, they’ll deal with it, while keeping me informed all the way through the process.”
Chris Jones, Managing Director of Care & Repair Cymru said:
“It’s fantastic to hear how happy Mrs Taylor is with our service. We help tens of thousands of older people in Wales every year to improve their housing through repairs, adaptations, energy efficiency, safety and security works. The new Independent Living Grants will mean that we can help even more people. Waiting times for housing adaptations are a big concern for older people, and we will be working closely with our colleagues and partners in local government to use this money in the best way we can to reduce these waiting times. We are grateful for the Welsh Government’s support in helping us do this”
If you think that you, or a friend or relative would benefit from Care & Repair’s services, the local rate number is 0300 111 3333. You will be connected to the Care & Repair Agency covering your area who will be more than happy to help. Alternatively, details of Care & Repair services and your local Care & Repair Agencies can be found on the Care & Repair Cymru website