Friday, February 27, 2009

North West's elderly to benefit from 'handyperson' scheme

Elderly people in the North West are to benefit from millions of pounds worth of funding for an innovative handy help scheme.

The funding was announced after Preston Care and Repair, a local organisation that helps older, disabled and vulnerable people to make repairs to their homes, won a national award for its services.

For more details visit the website.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

'Why should I go into a home?'

Hanover at Home helps elderly people retain their independence as their health care needs change. The following article appeared on the Guardian Housing Horizons website.

When widower George Keegan had a near-fatal heart attack he thought he would never return to live in his house in Dagenham, Essex. Keegan, 84, registered disabled because of arthritis, was sure he would be referred to a nursing or residential home when he left hospital. But today, five years on, he lives independently in his own home because of support from Hanover at Home.

Around 5,000 people every year are helped by the home improvement agency, which has an annual budget of £2m and operates in 13 districts across England. Run by the housing association Hanover Homes, it has helped people access around £20m of funds since 2000 to pay for adaptations and repairs in their own homes so they can carry on living there as their social and healthcare needs change.

The service helped Keegan access £16,000 of local authority disabled facilities grants to install a stairlift, a walk-in shower and a step lift at his front door to allow him access with his mobility scooter. Keegan says: "I know this house, I've got good neighbours and good friends, and family just around the corner. Why should I go into a home when I have all my marbles?"

Keegan is one of up to 100 clients a year helped by the service in Barking and Dagenham. District manager Elaine Dennison, who has worked for Hanover Homes for 18 years, says: "The greatest job satisfaction for me is that we work as part of a team - we discuss a problem and resolve it for our clients. When a client comes and says: 'what I really need is a chairlift to go upstairs without relying on help from my family' you can help them achieve that, and then you know that it's a job well done."

Dennison manages two case workers, who help clients apply for funding and support them while work is going on, as well as referring them to other support services if necessary. Two technical staff are responsible for a health and safety assessment of the property. Most of Dennison's clients are older disabled people who are owner-occupiers and referred by the council's adult social services.

Sometimes, says Dennison, it is challenging to adapt the property. "An occupational therapist might say a person needs a vertical through-the-floor stair lift, but that might cause a lot of disruption to their upstairs rooms. Sometimes there are some difficult decisions to make, but the work we do is all about giving people support and time. For some, moving is the right choice - this is all about options."

Keegan's daughter, 53-year-old Lynne Conway, is convinced her father would not be alive today if had been unable to stay in his own home. She says: "He wouldn't have been able to stay living here without Hanover's help because the family was unable to pay for the adaptations he needed. I'm sure if he had had to go into a home he would have lost the will to live. He's always said the only way they would ever get him out of his home would be in a box."

Monday, February 02, 2009

Bank told to fit lift in landmark ruling

BANKS and major high street stores which do not provide reasonable access for wheelchair users have been sent a stark warning.

In the first ruling of its kind, a judge has ordered the Royal Bank of Scotland to install a lift so that a wheelchair user can have the same access as any other customer.

Read more on the Liverpool Echo website.