The achievements of council teams, charities and inspirational frontline staff in supporting independent living have been celebrated at the National Healthy Housing Awards.
This year’s awards highlight how those working to ensure homes are safe and accessible have been at the forefront of supporting vulnerable people through the pandemic.
Organised by Foundations, the government-funded national body for home improvement agencies (HIAs), the awards – now in their second year – honour pioneering organisations and individuals who support people with disabilities and long-term conditions to live safely at home.
Judges assessed entries from all over England across eleven categories.
This year’s awards are sponsored by wet room and adapted bathroom specialist PROCare and presented at a ceremony held at the National Football Museum in Manchester.
Having been runner up in 2020, Manchester Care & Repair went one better this year by taking the title of Home Improvement Agency of the Year.
It picks up activities from health commissioners where these fit with its wider ethos such as the delivery of oximetry equipment during the pandemic. It is growing its trading activities and has succeeded in its bid to support discharge from hospital for people experiencing mental ill health. It is also using its reserves to provide some home comforts.
Care & Repair West Norfolk has been crowned Handyperson Service of the Year for the way in which it prevents major adaptation needs and avoid hospital admissions, keeping people safe within their home and providing value for money for the authority and health and social care services – exactly what the Social Care White Paper is advocating.
Lancaster Home Improvement Agency has scooped the title of Home Adaptation Service of the Year. It has shortened delivery times of Disabled Facilities Grants and minor adaptations and eradicated waiting lists ensuring people get health and wellbeing risks addressed early. It has started providing energy advice, provides supports to self-funders and uses local contractors to support the local economy and provides a hospital discharge service to address bed-blocking.
Ravinder Kaur of Care & Repair Leeds won Caseworker of the Year. During the covid-19 pandemic Ravinder made weekend Covid calls to vulnerable clients, delivered wellbeing packs and flowers on a Sunday for a client’s 90th birthday and by using her initiative was able to source Covid leaflets in different languages ensuring that vital information was available to everyone.
Martin Greaves in Peterborough, won Contractor of the Year. Martin puts the same care and thought into a project, whether it be fitting a grab rail or building a large bedroom and level access shower extension, and always delivers an outstanding service, adapting his approach to best suit the needs of the clients whilst fully engaging with all parties to ensure a smooth process.
Scooping the first award for Excellence in the Design of Home Adaptations are Invisible Creations. Their aim is to disrupt the market and offer attractive products that people install preventatively. Products are designed to be installed into homes sooner to prolong independence and prevent serious injury.
The Outstanding Achievement Award went to Sharon Ingram of Spotless Cleaning Services. Sharon regularly does cooking, shopping, and piles of washing for the vulnerable clients. She even dished out Christmas dinners to some clients who wouldn’t have had anything otherwise. She goes to car boot sales at the weekend, buying items that will be useful for individuals including storage solutions, bedding, clothing etc..
Emma Carter has been crowned Occupational Therapist of the Year. Based at Dorset Home Improvement Agency, Emma is inquisitive and clear thinking. Her interventions are always extremely well researched, ensuring that both she and her clients have accurate information available to facilitate discussion of their options and agree the best outcomes for their families and themselves.
The title of Social Housing Adaptations Service of the Year has gone to Wakefield District Housing for the way it offers wrap around support via Wellbeing Caseworkers, Mental Health Navigators, as their Adaptations Service has grown to encompass wellbeing services and working with commissioners at Wakefield CCG. They also have Housing Coordinators working the hospital wards to effect timely discharge and prevent any bed blocking.
Paul Fisher has been named Technical Officer of the Year. Paul has worked at Rochdale Home Improvement Agency for over 20 years, supporting hundreds of people to make life changing adaptations to their homes. Despite having a large caseload and often dealing with many complex and contentious cases Paul always remains professional, giving the best possible customer care to every customer.
Paul Smith, director of Foundations, said: “From running hospital discharge services to carrying out vital adaptations, this year’s winners highlight the way in which organisations continue to innovate and strive for improvement in partnership with colleagues across health, housing and social care. But what is also striking is the way in which they have proved themselves ideally equipped to help shield some of the most vulnerable people in society from the effects of the pandemic.”
The National Healthy Housing Awards build on the success of the annual HIA Awards, which were organised by Foundations from 2001 to 2018. The new awards, launched in 2019, continue to champion the work of home improvement agencies but also celebrate a wider range of individuals and organisations across England that enable people to live independent lives.