The Disabled Facilities Grant is a potentially life-changing funding option for many people, but it has long been blighted by issues around its accessibility and delivery. However, there have been a series of positive steps which aim to improve the delivery of home adaptations and empower older people and those living with disabilities to live safely and more independently in their own homes.
The DFG has been around for more than three decades now and is the only remaining grant from a much wider range of grants launched at the time, to help as many people as possible undertake the repairs, improvements and adaptations they need.
More recently the DFG has been absorbed into the Better Care Fund in a bid to bring housing, social care and health together under one umbrella, to jointly plan and combine resources and to improve integrated care across the board, including home adaptations.
The government has also been increasing the amount of money invested into DFG for a number of years; in 2020, £68m was added to the £505m funding paid to councils. This has the potential to see thousands more people benefit from home adaptations.
Under the Care Act, those councils have a duty to assess and provide certain home adaptations free of charge, yet there is still a great deal of confusion around eligibility for local authority support and grants such as the DFG for larger scale home adaptations such as lifts, wetrooms and adapted kitchens.
Many claim the DFG is still not widely promoted due to fears around triggering demands that simply cannot be met, this problem has combined with a nationwide reduction in advice and information services for people who try to find out if they are eligible for funding.
These issues, combined with slow and cumbersome waiting lists, mean that far too many people are still living in homes that are unsuitable for their needs at best and dangerous at worst.
It seems that we are heading in the right direction, but many claim we have much further to go.
A collaborative approach
Closer collaboration is the key to making home adaptations work better in the future, both in terms of speeding up the delivery of adaptations and the Disabled Facilities Grant.
Now is the ideal time to introduce more effective cross-sector working as more and more public services are doing so. The Integrated Care System is due to launch in England in April 2022 and the potential for the housing, health and social care sectors to work in partnership to provide faster, more effective interventions aimed at improving care, health and wellbeing services is massive.
The long-awaited National Disability Strategy, published by the government in the summer of 2021 makes a commitment to achieve those things.
For the 1 million households in England living without the adaptations they need, and the 400,000 wheelchair users living in inaccessible, unadapted homes, this is understandably good news, but also news that is treated with caution.
The challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic
The impact has been considerable. From initial assessments to the delivery of adaptations many services faced a sudden need to adapt their working practices due to national and regional lockdowns. Reconsidering how they needed to work with clients who were shielding and navigating the disruptions to supply chains, materials and workforces.
The knock-on effect for waiting lists has been seen across the country and it is vital that any plan to bring about improvements across the DFG process, factor in the implications such as capacity, wellbeing and increasing demand in a world of greater uncertainty.
At GB Home Adaptations our commitment to providing the best possible home adaptations service in Herefordshire remains as strong as ever. Our complete range of trusted local tradesmen undertake work quickly, reliably and with as little disruption as possible while maintaining the high standards our customer’s demand.
If you would like to learn more about funding options such as the DFG or the home adaptations that might be right for you, get in touch via our website or call us on Hereford 01432 272 188