The RST looked at various documents provided by Derwent Living and sourced externally, produced by other organisations. Including, a document from Habinteg Housing who have a focus on accessible housing. The team also looked at information from Age UK (fact sheet 42) which identifies potential issues with long waiting times for OT assessments, as well as recommendations for how adaptations should be dealt with, including a definition that a minor home adaptation costs £1000 or less. It was discovered that local authorities in most cases carry out means testing for major adaptations, as part of the Disabled Facilities Grant.
Benchmarking was carried out with Hyde Housing, Progress, Pinecourt and Northern Housing, and Sovereign Homes. It was discovered that there is a great difference between Housing Associations and the amount classed as for minor adaptations with a range between £600 and £1000. It was found that Hyde Housing have an adaptations surveyor, Progress employ an assessment office, plus a health and well-being officer.
The RST also identified a government fund for adaptations which has risen from £220 million in 2015/16, and is expected to increase to £502 million in the current year. This is available for local authorities. Greater awareness needs to be made on the availability of this fund, and this demonstrates the increased need for such adaptations and the changes that will help people lead independent lives.
The RST also looked at the Places for People adaptations policy alongside Derwent Livings own policy and found that there are differences between the two policies including the level of detail within the policies, and the costs of PfP and DL funded adaptations.
The team carried out a survey of customers who have had an adaptation carried out within the previous 18 months. 76 surveys were carried out with customers who had an adaptation carried out at an average cost of £164.00.
10 responses were received and the individual questions and responses can be found within the appendices.
The main findings include;
- 40% found the application process difficult
- 100% satisfied with the quality of the final work carried out
- 40% reported that they were not kept informed of the process for adaptations
- The RST feel that there may be a lack of consistency in communication with customers
- 30% stated that improvements could be made to the adaptations process
The Resident Scrutiny Team found that;
- There is a great variation around the costs attributed to minor adaptations, between both housing associations, and agencies such as Age UK.
- There is a difference in working between DL and PfP, and need for greater alignment.
- The process and who is responsible for adaptations is not clear to customers.
- There is a lack of consistency in communication around the process for applying for adaptations and how this is carried out.
- Satisfaction with quality of work carried out is high, however overall satisfaction is impacted by negative experience and communication with the initial process.
The RST make the following recommendations:
- There needs to be a consistent approach within the group, with consideration given on increasing the amount for minor adaptations, to that defined by Age UK as £1000 or less, in line with charging regulations.
- A designated member of staff who is responsible for the adaptations process from start to finish and is a point of contact for customers.
- Increase awareness of adaptations process, make information easier to access. Improve the information contained within the Adapting your Home policy to provide more detail and how to apply and what happens next.
- Ensure that extra support is given to vulnerable customers in making an application for adaptations, and signpost to other agencies, and continue to support in the external process, e.g. with local authorities.
- The RST request that this review and their recommendations are taken into consideration when the Adapting your Home policy is reviewed in 2020.