Help from Home Improvement Agencies

If you are struggling to keep warm in your own home and it’s affecting your health and wellbeing, don’t suffer in silence.

Help is available via the Foundations Independent Living Trust (FILT) which delivers grants through its network of handyperson and home improvement agencies (HIA) in England.

FILT programmes fund life-changing interventions to make homes more energy efficient and/or easier to keep warm. Plus, the charity also provides grants to improve the safety of gas work and appliances in the home.

Elderly Man

Measures range from draught proofing and fitting reflector radiator panels to replacement of boilers and central heating systems.

Grants

Grants are currently available via the following funds:

npower Health Through Warmth (HTW) Crisis Fund

HTW offers help to people in England who have long-term illnesses and are finding it hard to fund heating and insulation measures in their homes.

Who qualifies for help?

People with long-term illness who own and occupy their own home, who also have a low income and little or no savings (which are assessed) and cannot fully fund the work themselves.

Grant recipients don’t have to be or become an npower customer, to receive help.

Gas Safe Charity

FILT works with Gas Safe to provide preventative services that directly address the risks of death, injuries and illness caused by dangerous gas work and appliances.

The following types of essential minor work may be carried out using the Grant Scheme funding:

  • Gas Safety Checks
  • Gas Servicing
  • Gas Boiler Repairs
  • Gas Boiler Replacements
  • Gas Boiler Combustion Analysis
  • Gas Cookers
  • Fires
  • Gas Pipework
  • Gas Meters
  • Water Heaters.
Who qualifies for help?
  • Home owners who are 60 years of age or over and who receive means tested benefit
  • Home owners who are 60 years of age or over and who receive state pension only (with no other income)
  • Home owners who are 60 years of age or over who are disabled
  • Home owners who are 18 years of age or over who are disabled

Please note that the maximum grant paid from this fund is £500 per home.

People helped by Home Improvement Agencies

Mr W is 80 years of age and lived alone. He had recently undergone surgery to have a pacemaker fitted and his mobility was poor.

The HIA was contacted as his 40-year-old boiler had broken down and Mr W only had one small electric fire to keep him warm.

“We contacted the local borough council to assist with heating repairs. The council advised they could contribute towards a replacement boiler and it was arranged that we would try to raise as much funds as possible and the council would make up the shortfall.

“We were able to utilise funding from the Gas Safe Charity scheme, Home Warmth for the Aged Benevolent Fund, an anonymous charity and npower Health Through Warmth Hardship Fund administered through Foundations Independent Living Trust. In total, an amount of £1,800 was raised and the Borough Council made up the shortfall of £1,600.”

The new boiler was fitted quickly and Mr W was able to convalesce in the warmth of his home.

You can read other people’s stories of getting help from Home Improvement Agencies on the FILT website

How to get help

If you’re at risk of fuel poverty or are concerned about gas safety in your home, please contact your local home improvement agency (HIA) who can apply for the funding on your behalf.

Find your local home improvement agency

You can also call 0300 124 0315.

If you live in other parts of the UK

Northern Ireland

Home Improvement Agencies can be accessed via the Northern Ireland Housing Executive in Northern Ireland.

Scotland

There are several Home Improvement Agencies in Scotland. See the Care and Repair Scotland website for more information.

Wales

Care and Repair Cymru provides Home Improvement Agency services for people living in Wales.

Source: Turn2Us

Lack of social care is piling pressure on surgeries and A&Es

20th March 2017

Almost 9 out of 10 GPs (89%) think reductions in social care are leading to extra pressures in their surgeries. Even more (93%) think that the lack of social care is leading to extra pressure on A&Es and contributing to increased delayed discharges from hospital.

Ahead of next week’s budget, the poll of over 1000 GPs reveals an overwhelming 92% of GPs think social care services are failing to give patients sufficient care. Currently at least 1.2 million older people and disabled people (1) do not receive the care they need, a 48% increase since 2010. When people don’t get the basic care they need, they are more likely to fall into crisis and need more expensive medical attention.care servicesKey findings include:

  • 9 out 10 GPs (92%) are not confident that social care services currently provide a sufficient level of care for patients.
  • Almost 9 out 10 of GPs (89%) think reductions in social care have contributed to pressures in their surgeries and (93%) think this has led to increased pressures in A&E and contributed to an increase in delayed discharges from hospital.
  • GPs also think that things are going to get worse, with 8 out of 10 GPs (81%) thinking care services would worsen over the next two to three years.
  • Almost 9 out 10 GPs (88%) think that due to cuts to social care there is less care than just two years ago
  • Nearly 1 in 3 (31%) GPs thought that 1 – 5% of appointments could have been avoided if better social care was in place, another 30% thought 5 – 10%, and more than 1 in 10 (12%) thought as many as 21 – 30%.

Vicky McDermott, Chair of the Care and Support Alliance, said:

“Our social care system is letting people and their families down by denying them basic care such as help getting out of bed, getting out of the house or even having a fresh meal. More than a million people with difficult conditions are being denied the chance to live as well as they deserve.

“GPs are on the front line, a witness to what happens when you take basic care away from people – it damages their health and means they need more expensive care from the NHS.

“Philip Hammond needs to use the budget to invest in social care. The Government needs to address the crisis in social care, which is resulting in the NHS picking up the tab and people not getting the care they need.”

The poll was commissioned by the Care and Support Alliance (CSA) – a coalition of more than 90 of the country’s leading charities – who are calling for a properly funded care system.

The coalition has warned that the Government’s attempts to increase funding into social care have been being inadequate and “a drop in the ocean” compared to what is needed. Social care funding has fallen by £4.6 billion, a third, over the last 5 years (2).

Hospitals are experiencing record delayed discharge, with delays because of a lack of home care increasing by 230 per cent from August 2010 to Dec 2016. Last year the NHS lost 650,000 bed days (3), costing the NHS up to £300 million (4). NHS Chief Simon Stevens last year highlighted: “The most immediate need is social care. If home care disappears and care homes close, A&Es are quickly overwhelmed. We need creative solutions.”

One in eight over 65s has some level of unmet need (5). In the UK, around one in three people rely on, or have a close family member that relies on, the care system (6). Currently carers provide care worth £132bn, the equivalent to the UK’s total health care annual spend (7) and over 2 million people have already given up work to care.

Social care user Rachel Looby, 34, from Harrogate, needed medical help after her hours were cut. She said:

“When my hours were cut it was a stressful time for me. I took the wrong medication and ended up in hospital, and this made me feel like my health had not been considered at all. Being in hospital left me feeling anxious and upset and I worried if something else might happen once I got home.”

Dr Jon Orrell, a practising GP from Dorset, added:

“As a GP for 30 years I have never before seen patients being let down by social care services as they are now. I see patients who are unable to feed themselves or cook being bounced back to the NHS to get food supplement cartons to drink alone, instead of real meals.

“Recently I had a case of a son who had been caring for his mother and despite being granted respite breaks he never received it because funding was cut. Eventually,he became exhausted and his mum had to go to hospital. I regularly see the false economy of cutting social care, people only end up needing more help because basic care wasn’t there in the first place.”

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “Colleagues right across health and social care are currently struggling to meet growing patient demand, with scarce financial and workforce resources – and it is our patients who are suffering the consequences.

“When social care is not properly resourced, it undoubtedly has a knock-on effect on GPs and our teams, as well as our colleagues working in hospitals. We must start seeing good healthcare as a tripod, with robust general practice, hospital and social care services as three linked elements; all must be appropriately resourced, and all working together in harmony, for us to provide care that is in the best interests of patients.

“We hope these figures encourage the Government to review funding for the whole of health and social care – and to implement the pledges made in NHS England’s GP Forward View, including £2.4bn extra a year for general practice and 5,000 more full time equivalent GPs by 2020 – so that we can all deliver the care our patients need and deserve.”

Personal story of how social care cuts led to need for NHS care:

Rachel’s Story 

Rachel, 34, from Harrogate is visually impaired, has dyspraxia and autism.

For a long time Rachel received 17 hours support a week. This involved help with basic tasks such, as cleaning and cooking, as well as help with managing her money, medication and personal care.

However her support was reduced to just five hours per week. This meant she only had help with basic tasks. With no one to help her manage her medication Rachel missed doses and had a seizure. To make things worse, while recovering Rachel mistook her dog’s flea medication for her own and became very ill for which she had to be hospitalised.

These two incidents, understandably, knocked her confidence, and she became demotivated and stopped taking her anti-depressant medication. This led to her becoming depressed and socially isolated.

For more information or interviews please contact either

Mel Merritt – Care and Support Alliance 

020 7923 5770 /mel.merritt@csa.org.uk

Warren Kirwan – Scope 

020 7619 7702/  warren.kirwan@scope.org.uk

The polling

Medeconnect polled 1006 regionally representative GPs between 14th and 23rd February 2017. 

Notes to Editors