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The Home Improvement Agencies Awards, which celebrate the work of Home Improvement Agencies and handyperson services across England, has announced its winners at a House of Lords ceremony.

Organised by Foundations, the national body for Home Improvement Agencies (HIAs), the annual awards recognise the way in which the HIA sector is contributing to the prevention and early intervention agenda in helping to link up health, housing and social care.

Enabling vulnerable people to live independently in their own homes, HIAs help with an array of issues from a dripping tap to home adaptation projects. Services ensure that existing housing is fit for purpose and that vulnerable people are able to continue living independently as long as possible.

Representatives from government departments and organisations including Public Health England, HACT, Centre for Ageing Better, The Royal College of Occupational Therapists and Disabled Living Foundation joined finalists at the awards ceremony.

Awards host Lord Best said: “It’s absolutely vital that we ensure vulnerable people are safe at home and enable them to live healthier, more independent lives as we shift the emphasis towards preventive services.

“These awards highlight how Home Improvement Agencies are rising to that challenge.”

The winners

Lincolnshire HIA and Middlesbrough Staying Put jointly won the HIA Service of the Year award.

Playing a pivotal role in delivering Lincolnshire County Council’s Wellbeing Service, Lincolnshire HIA is a member of Lincs Independent Living Partnership. Dealing with over 5,000 referrals from 2017-2018, it has helped to reduce falls and social isolation through a range of interventions.

Middlesbrough Staying Put – a HIA run by Middlesbrough Council – has grown from a small grants department to a comprehensive prevention service that now plays an essential role in reforming health and social care services. The HIA has also collaborated with partners to share learning with neighbouring local authorities.

The award for Home Adaptations Service of the Year was won by Homelife Carlisle for its success in speeding up home adaptations by working with occupational therapists and other partners in order to improve the referrals process.

Run by Carlisle Council, the HIA has overseen a major increase in support via Disabled Facilities Grants – the main source of local funding for housing adaptations – including a 55 percent rise in mandatory DFGs and a 130 percent increase in discretionary grants.

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WE Care & Repair, a HIA covering four local authority areas in the West of England, won the Handyperson Service of the Year title.

Carrying out a wide range of minor adaptations that help to reduce or prevent hospital admissions, it has enabled vulnerable people to live independently. During 2017-2018, 8,690 customers reported being able to live more independently through WE Care & Repair’s support.

Care & Repair Worcestershire won this year’s Innovation Award for developing the first non-means tested Dementia Dwelling Grant, which supports people to live well with dementia through the provision of specialist adaptations.

This year’s Collaboration Award has gone to Care Network, a HIA covering Blackburn with Darwen. Examples of its work include a safe trader scheme involving 49 local businesses and the Care Network Hub, a one-stop shop for information on health and wellbeing activities that brings together 80 local partners.

HEART Warwickshire won the Commissioning Award through helping to keep more people safe, secure and warm in their own home by offering holistic support and advice on home improvements and disabled adaptations.

Finally, the FILT Delivery Partner of the Year was won by Mosscare St Vincent’s, which delivers services in Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale.

Foundation’s Independent Living Trust is the charitable arm of Foundations, which has been working closely with Mosscare St Vincent’s to maximise the impact of available funding to combat gas safety and fuel poverty.

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Paul Smith, Director of Foundations, commented on the Awards: “What’s striking about this year’s awards is the way in which HIAs across the country are finding innovative ways to maximise the impact of funding and resources.

“We’re seeing more and more collaboration and that can only bode well for the integration of housing, health and social care.”

Foundations is the national body for home improvement agency and handypersons services and DFG and is funded by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. It provides support to 200 not-for-profit home improvement and handyperson service providers in England who cover more than 80 percent of local authority areas.

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