Two new, fully wheelchair accessible and affordable, three bedroom family bungalows for rent have been built by the council as part of its New Homes for Neighbourhoods programme that aims to build at least 500 new council homes over the next few years. The properties are being let to households with a wheelchair user through the council’s Homemove bidding system in August.
The council’s Housing Adaptations Service has been heavily involved in the design of these bungalows, working with the Estate Regeneration Team to help ensure the council improves quality of life and supports independent living for people of all ages with physical disabilities, as well as meeting our Housing Strategy priority to increase the supply of new affordable rented family homes.
Investment in housing adaptations and commissioning new build wheelchair adapted housing promotes independent living and has been demonstrated to deliver significant cost benefits for both Health & Social Care and Children's Services.
£2.63 Million was spent on adaptations to existing homes across the city’s council and private sector housing in the last year, with the projected spend likely to rise. Changes in funding arrangements, and a growing older population, have seen the service under increasing pressure as we support more people live at home for longer with complex needs. More often staff are advising clients to think seriously about moving into a suitable property which is specially designed for a wheelchair user or has already been adapted, rather than costly and disruptive conversion of their homes.
The Tenant Disability Network has been working closely with the service to identify ‘suitable to adapt’ larger council family homes as and when they become empty, and Registered Provider partners have been approached to contribute toward the cost of adaptations in their homes.
Chair of Housing and New Homes, Councillor Anne Meadows, said:
“I am delighted that the council has built and designed these two fully wheelchair accessible bungalows, they will make the world of difference to the incoming residents. Under our New Homes for Neighbourhoods programme at least 1 in 10 of the homes we build will be specially designed for wheelchair users, like these. Equally important is the work of the adaptations team, who must be enabled to carry out assessments and adaptations at the right time to support people to stay in their own homes.”
The council’s Housing Adaptations Service continues to work proactively to manage increasing demand. Evidence has shown* that overall helping people to stay in their own homes creates huge savings for the council’s health and social care budgets, and significantly reduces hospital admissions, saving the NHS thousands every year.
The ‘Better outcomes, lower costs’ (ODI/University of Bristol 2007) report and Audit Commission (2009) ‘Building Better Lives – getting the best from strategic housing’, provide evidence that investment in housing adaptations brings significant savings to Health and Social Care budgets, reducing residential care and hospital admissions and delayed discharges.
The Audit Commission (2009) ‘Building Better Lives –getting the best from strategic housing’ found that spending between £2,000 and £20,000 on adaptations that enable an elderly person to remain in their own home can save £6,000 per year in care costs.