Agenda item

Update Report on Disabled Facilities Grant Related Issues

To consider the report of the Director of Service Delivery, (copy enclosed).


The Committee considered the report of the Director of Service Delivery, together with appendix 1, that provided a summary of the allocation and outcomes of the Council’s Disabled Facilities Grant programme (DFG) for the previous year and provided feedback on proposals raised at the Community Services Meeting on the 28 August 2018 (Minute 372 RESOLVED refers).


The Chairman drew Members attention section 3.5 of the report containing the response to proposals raised previously by the Committee together with appendix 1 detailing updates on questions raised previously.


The Director of Resources addressing previous proposals and questions raised advised the Committee that the information had been collated by housing staff and other agencies. He hoped that the update was comprehensive and covered all salient points to date and asked if the Committee required any further assistance on this matter.


Councillor Miss Lewis, referring to the issue of assessment, said that this remained over complicated and drawn out. She informed the Committee that as a member of the Housing LIN Forum they had looked in-depth at the possibility of reducing the number of assessments that applicants had to undergo. A common assessment mechanism that fulfils all agency requirements was the ideal way forward to ensure that vulnerable people were supported in a timely fashion. The Chairman noted that this would be difficult, given the multi-agencies involved.


The Director of Service Delivery, in response, reiterated the Chairman’s views and that the Council was not ultimately responsible. However, he said that if the Council could broker a meeting with said agencies to facilitate a more efficient approach then they would.


Concern was expressed at the county-wide versus local provision approach and that the Home from Hospital task and Finish Group and the Handyperson Task and Finish Group could potentially, with the appropriate funding, provide a local efficient service.


It was agreed that the scheme be delegated to the Commercial Manger to investigate the best model going forward and report back to the Committee on options for local delivery of services. A progress report would be submitted to the next meeting of this Committee.




(i)                that Members note the key achievements from previous years;


(ii)              that Members receive and note the status of proposals outlined at the meeting in August 2018 and detailed in section 3.5.1 of the report: -


i.        Approval to fund an apprentice surveyor – helping manage succession planning, improving capacity and resilience to meet longer term demands on the service;


There is no current provision for an apprentice surveyor within the future model however this matter will be reviewed as part of the detailed design work which will be carried out over the summer of 2019 to ensure the Council is able to deliver its services effectively


ii       Agreement to use some additional funding to contribute towards the cost of a ‘home from hospital’ scheme, linked with Community Led Housing, helping local housing associations provide dedicated facilities to enable local people to leave hospital sooner, move closer to family and undertake a programme of reablement;


Negotiations are on-going in connection with the Community Led Housing Project regarding a re-ablement programme. 


A Home from Hospital Task and Finish Group and a Handyperson Task and Finish Group has been set up.  MDC Officers are part of both groups. These Groups have identified the need for a Countywide Handyperson Service with particular focus being given to minor works, (such as key safe and level thresholds etc.)   These works are often required to prevent delayed discharge and enable safe efficient return home from hospital.  This service should also reduce/prevent hospital admission and promote an individual’s independence.  Continued work is ongoing to establish how this can be achieved, focussing on the feasibility of each Authority contributing towards a Handyperson Service to undertake these minor works.


Both Groups need to do further work to ensure an effective service is provided avoiding duplication of the current Essex Carers and Care Support Services (ECL) contract. 


iii      Explore the potential to create a local home improvement agency type service, providing practical help, support and advice to older people and those with disabilities so that they can continue to live independently in their homes;


The Home Improvement Team is providing an Informal Home Improvement Agency type service which generates substantial income from fees.  The Team is in an excellent position as part of the Housing Team to be informed of properties that are to be advertised on Choice Based Letting before the advertisement is placed.  The Team is continuing to facilitate relocations to previously adapted properties therefore making better use of housing stock as required by the Private Sector Housing Assistance Policy.  Local knowledge within the team coupled with the fact that two of the team are former Home Improvement Agency (HIA) staff, allow positive discussion with clients at the initial visit stage.  The recommendations provided by the Occupational Therapist are reviewed and early identification made where these works are not practicable to undertake in the property. The possibility of moving is then discussed at the outset, thus avoiding unnecessary delays in meeting the client’s needs. 


The Team works very closely with all Housing Associations across the Maldon District securing contributions for works to be undertaken at these Housing Association’s properties. Advice and assistance are given regarding Attendance Allowance, which is a much-underutilised allowance for older people, the additional income achieved as a result of this assistance allows vulnerable residents to employ people to assist them with various tasks (such as handyperson) which are beyond their capability thus reducing the risk of slips, trips and falls and subsequent hospitalisation. This matter will be kept under review.


iv       Begin discussions with mid Essex Occupational Therapist Services (OTs) to consider the possibility of dedicated OTs to improve service and other opportunities for those who may need adaptations.


Discussions have been completed, Countywide, regarding the provision of an in-house Occupational Therapist (OT). An agreement has been completed for Maldon District Council, Braintree District Council and Chelmsford City Council to share an in-house OT. The use of this service is based upon the number of recommendations received. Chelmsford and Braintree will utilise the OT for two days and Maldon for one day. MDC contribution towards this is pro-rata and funded from Maldon’s Better Care Funding allocation.

In conjunction with the OT, Council Officers will be looking to develop a pathway from hospital/hospice to home and will also be on hand to discuss any general queries we may have regarding recommendations. 


(iii)      that the Commercial Manager investigate the best model for local service delivery of the Disabled Facilities Grants Programme and report back to this Committee on progress.


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