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New joint working to help older and disabled people live more independently and safely
Release date: Fri, 20/07/2012
The signing of a new care and repair contract will enable Bristol City Council to better help older and disabled people to live independently and safely
Bristol City Council has joined forces with the other three local authorities in the south west in a move aimed at delivering improved care and repair services for older and disabled people.
The agreement, which has been signed with West of England Care and Repair, will enable the new-look services to pool resources enabling them to provide more help, more efficiently, through a simplified system and offering the benefit of a 'one-stop' service .
The agency will provide information and advice on housing-related issues, deliver minor repairs through a handy van service, ensure that homes are suitable for people leaving hospital and support those requiring major adaptations to their homes.
The councils were unanimous in agreeing that the WE Care & Repair tender was the strongest bid for the contract. The organisation showed a good understanding of each council's requirements and, most importantly, what the people using the service want from it.
Their proposals ensure that there will be a smooth transition to the new contract with existing knowledge and experience retained. WE Care & Repair also have a proven track record of helping clients find funding to help them pay for necessary building works.
The services will help people identify their options by addressing problems such as disrepair, home health, accident hazards, fuel poverty and debt or by finding alternative suitable accommodation.
The core customer groups are all older and disabled households, although the majority are owner-occupiers. Information & advice and support for those leaving hospital will be provided for free.
There will be a small charge for the handyperson service (with a concession for those on a low income). The agency will also advise on any grants, charities and low cost loans that could help pay for major building works.
A new centre has also been opened in Waterloo Road, Bristol where people can test out equipment to aid their mobility such as level access showers, kitchen equipment and seat raisers.
These proposals are part of a wider strategy by Bristol City Council to improve the way it undertakes the assessment and delivery process for Home Adaptations. These changes will help deliver a faster, seamless service and allow more people to be helped.
Councillor Anthony Negus, Cabinet Member for Housing, Property and Regeneration, said: "This is an important agreement which will enable us to deliver improved services to older and disabled people. By joining with other local authorities in the south west we will be able to use our resources more efficiently, enabling us to target funding where it is most needed.
"The council's housing strategy is called My Home is Springboard for Life and we know that being able to remain in your own home for as long as possible is seen as of the utmost necessity by many older people today. This new contract will help us deliver that."
Councillor Glenise Morgan, Cabinet Member for Care and Health, said: "Older and disabled people consistently tell us that remaining in their own home is crucial to their quality of life.
"The aids and equipment we can provide, at comparatively little cost, have a disproportionately massive effect on the quality of life for people while also avoiding time in hospital or the need for them to go into far more expensive residential care."
WE Care & Repair Chief Executive Craig Wilson said: "I am really pleased that Care & Repair have been awarded the contract to continue to provide support to older and disabled people of all ages in the West of England. During this time of cuts and economic stress it's great to see that our local authorities have continued to support older people in their desire to remain independent and living in their own homes.
I'd like to thank our partner organisations and all our clients who have supported us during the process. Our clients can rest assured that their very best interests remain at the heart of all our activities."
The contract was developed following a huge response to a consultation of service users and stakeholder organisations.
Over 3,000 survey responses from older people, those with disabilities and carers said it was important to have reliable, sympathetic and trustworthy staff to deal with, that services need to be of a high standard and that charges should be reasonable.
For the first time, the city council will deliver this service in partnership with neighbouring local authorities in Bath and North East Somerset, South Gloucestershire and North Somerset.
Bristol has also received funding for the contract from NHS Bristol.This joint working has helped improve the service and make efficiencies. This means the new contract is better value for money and helps all the councils involved prepare for an increasingly ageing society.
Richard Lyle, associate director at NHS Bristol said: “we are happy to support the organisation that enables people to safely stay in the comfort of their own homes for as long as possible.”
Home Improvement Agencies is the general name for this service.
West of England Care & Repair were awarded this contract through an OJEU competitive tendering process.
Further details, including the commissioning strategy, can be found on the consultation finder website http://www.citizenspace.com/bristol/neighbourhoods/west-of-england-home-improvement-agency