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More than £165m to support home adaptations for disabled people

Published 31 March 2010

Communities Minister Lord McKenzie has today granted over £165m to help local councils pay for adaptations that will enable disabled people to live comfortably and independently in their own homes.

The Disabled Facilities Grant programme will help around 40,000 people with disabilities make improvements to their homes, thereby improving their everyday lives and allowing them to avoid the hassle and costs of moving house.

The Minister has today announced how much cash each council will receive this April to support people in their local area.

The grant can be used for a wide variety of adjustments that will make life easier for disabled people, including severely disabled ex-Service personnel, such as improved lighting for better visibility or improved access to the home through ramps and widened doors.

Lord McKenzie said:

"These grants will make life significantly easier every day for many thousands of people. No one wants to go through the upheaval of moving house when it is avoidable. This money enables people to stay in their own home, while enjoying an improved quality of life."

The Disabled Facilities Grant forms one part of the Right to Control Trailblazers, a series of pilots in which participating disabled people have the right to choose and control the support they receive.

Minister for Disabled People, Jonathan Shaw, said:

"Disabled people are the experts in their own lives - that's why we've worked together to give them more control over funding and services.

"In the Right to Control Trailblazers, thousands of disabled people will have more choice over how funding, such as the Disabled Facilities Grant, can help them live independently in their own homes."

Julia Skelton of the College of Occupational Therapists welcomed today's announcement, saying:

"Providing an environment that is accessible is important in helping people to remain in their own homes for longer; Disabled Facilities Grants play an important part in helping to make this happen."

Many recipients will be able to remain, or become, independent as a result of receiving the grant, as they will now be able to do things alone that would otherwise have required assistance. The grant is means tested so it reaches those most in need.

Notes to Editors

1. Disabled Facilities Grants are means-tested grants to fund adaptations to the homes of disabled people to help them to continue to live as independently as possible. It is a ring-fenced grant, allocated to local authorities by central Government. The grants will be paid in March 2010.

2. Government's contribution to the grants this year is £167.3m in total, an increase of 7 per cent compared to 2009/10.

3. The grant can be used for adaptations that provide better freedom of movement into and around the home or to provide essential facilities. An occupational therapist will look at individual circumstances and recommend the type of adaptation(s) needed. Acceptable types of work include:

  • widening doors and installing ramps
  • providing or improving access to rooms and facilities - for example, by installing a stair lift or providing a downstairs bathroom
  • adapting heating or lighting controls to make them easier to use
  • improving or providing a suitable heating system
  • providing suitable bathroom or kitchen facilities
  • improving access to and movement around the home to enable individual to care for another person who lives in the property, such as a child.

4. Any eligible disabled person can apply for this grant through their local authority, whether they are a homeowner, private tenant or local authority tenant. The council will arrange for an occupational therapist through social services to visit the home to assess which adaptations are needed.

5. A package of changes to modernise and improve the Disabled Facilities Grant programme was announced in 2008. Changes included raising the limit on Disabled Facilities Grant to £30,000 and making access to gardens part of the Disabled Facilities Grant. The means test was also improved to help low-income workers.

6. A table showing the grant allocations for each local authority can be found at the following link: www.communities.gov.uk/housing/supportandadaptations/housingadaptations/localauthoritydfgallocations/.

7. The Right to Control is a strategy to enable disabled people more choice and control over the support they receive from the state. Disabled people taking part in the Right to Control pilots, known as trailblazers, will have a legal right to:

  • be told how much support they are eligible to receive
  • decide and agree, with the public body, the outcomes they want to achieve, based on the objectives of the funding streams they access
  • have choice and control over the support they receive
  • be able to choose how they receive the support

The funding streams included in the Right to Control test areas are:

  • Access to Work
  • Work Choice
  • Independent Living Fund
  • Non-statutory housing related support (also known as Supporting People)
  • Disabled Facilities Grant
  • Adult Community Care will also be joined up in the test areas. This funding could be used for help within the home or to provide equipment.

Case studies

Note that names have been changed/concealed.

Bristol

Mr and Mrs G live in a 4 bedroom detached property with their 4 children, in Bristol. Their eldest child, who is 12, has had poor functional mobility from birth. He is a wheelchair user and his ability to weight bear is limited and unpredictable. His parents were finding it increasingly difficult to manually handle him up and down stairs.

Initially Mr and Mrs G thought that a stair lift would be appropriate for their needs. After the Occupational Therapist made an assessment, it was recommended that a through floor lift was more appropriate for their son's condition. Mr G said 'I'm glad that I was wrong with regard to the stair lift. Having this through floor lift was definitely the right decision. We can wheel his wheel chair onto the lift, which then goes up into his bedroom. No one could understand the difference this has made to our lives; it was worth all the upheaval!'

The total cost of the adaptation was £11,035.75. Mr and Mrs G were entitled to full Disabled Facilities Grant, which meant that their contribution to the work was nil.

Carlisle

Case 1: Kelly and her family were helped by a Disabled Facilities Grant. An extension was built on their home to provide an additional bedroom and bathroom. The extra space was needed so Kelly's parents could provide the care she needs on a daily basis. Before the work was done, Kelly spent a lot of time receiving specialist treatment in a hospital forty miles away from her home. She needs to be fed intravenously and, because of the risk of infection, this has to be carried out in a sterile environment. The extension has meant that Kelly can now be cared for safely at home, reducing entirely the need for long stays in hospital. The house has also been adapted so she can move about while undergoing treatment, meaning she can fully take part in family life. The changes to the house have made a real difference to Kelly's quality of life and made it easier for her parents to care for her.

Case 2: An elderly gentleman who has severe osteoarthritis in his hips, knees, hands and shoulders, and had difficulties in moving around, was helped by a Disabled Facilities Grant. It was becoming unsafe for him to get in and out of the bath. The grant paid for his old bath to be taken out and a level access shower fitted. This reduced the risk of him falling and injuring himself and allowed him to be more independent.

London

Westminster Home Improvement Agency helped a 99 year old man living in a house in Westminster with his wife. He had suffered a broken hip which left him with mobility problems. This, along with his reduced mobility due to his age, made getting around increasingly difficult for him, and meant that his wife had to assist him most of the time. Having been assessed by an Occupational Therapist it was recommended that a stairlift be provided to enable him to access his bathroom, WC and bedroom on the first floor.

It was not too long after the lift installation that he became unable to access his bath. A new referral was made and a further Occupational Therapy assessment was carried out. It was recommended that a shower/loo cubicle be installed in his bedroom, which would enable him to access toilet and shower facilities more safely, particularly during the night, without disturbing his wife.

The physical and mental benefits were immediate, as he enjoyed increased independence and safety. It also improved day to day life for his wife as she had been assisting him every time he had to go upstairs.

The adaptations have enabled a couple to remain in their home. In the words of his wife, "we would never be able to cope here without these adaptations".

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