Adaptations Policy

Policy reference number: POL-I&R-ADAPT
Version number: 2
Date applies from: 23/4/13

UNCONTROLLED IF PRINTED

1) Aim of Policy

1. Objectives:
• To deliver equitable and transparent services to those vulnerable and disabled residents within available resources;
• To proactively encourage requests for adaptations through promoting the availability of the service as a means to assist in independent living;
• To provide staff involved in the delivery of adaptations with clear guidelines on policy standards and priorities, and provide training where required;
• To keep residents informed at all stages of the process of the services they can expect to receive and the estimated timescales;
• To ensure we comply with our legal obligations and good practice guidelines.

1.2. Summary
1.2.1. City West Housing Trust has developed an adaptations policy that supports the Social Model of Disability and aims to provide a transparent, equitable, efficient and culturally sensitive adaptations service in response to identified need and requests for equipment and adaptations. The policy aims to support customers and ensure they experience a good quality of life within their homes and includes service standards which have been agreed with our customers. The policy and associated service will strike a balance between continuously improving levels of provision and customer service and the need to achieve value for money and ensure that resources are used to the maximum benefit within the constraints of the resources available.

1.2.2. The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA 1995 (amended Dec 06) states that “…landlords will be obliged to make certain reasonable adjustments if requested by the customer. Reasonable adjustments do not include the removal or alteration of a physical feature but do include providing auxiliary aids or services, changing practices, policies and procedures and/or changing the term of the letting.”

1.2.3. Recommendations arising from partnership working, changes to legislation and the allocation of Government funding may result in on-going changes to this policy.

1.2.4. While there is no statutory responsibility upon individual Housing Trusts to provide adaptations for their customers, the Homes and Communities Agency expects them to make provision to assist in the delivery of adaptations to their customers.

2) Policy

2.1. Our commitment
2.1.1. City West has agreed with customers that:
• We will work closely with partners to access, on behalf of our customers, the services of qualified Occupational Therapists and a range of funding options including:

• Disabled Facilities Grants - Under the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996, there is a specific duty upon the local authority to provide Disabled Facilities Grants (DFGs) to eligible applicants to meet the cost of fixed equipment and adaptations to dwellings to meet a disabled person’s needs. Available on a tenure-neutral basis, the Mandatory element of DFG is subject to a maximum grant of £30,000, and is dependant upon a means test of the applicant’s resources. This may result in the applicant being required to make a contribution towards the cost.
• SSAFA (Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association) – These offer financial assistance with adaptations or special equipment to families who have relatives who have been in the forces for at least 18 months at any time.
• WPWS (War Pensioners’ Welfare Service) – provides War Disablement Pensioners, War Widows and War Widowers with assistance obtaining adaptations.
• Royal British Legion; RAF; Royal National Benevolent Association – Offer advice and assistance on aids and adaptations.
• British Red Cross – Medical Loans Service provides equipment to disabled persons, often available free of charge.
• We will comply with legislative and regulatory requirements and work within the spirit of the Homes and Communities Agency guide: “Minor Adaptations without Delay”.
• As far as practicably possible, we will support customers and enable them to continue to live independently within their home and community, ensuring that their home remains safe and convenient to use, whilst ensuring efficient management of resources. This means that there may be occasions when City West will not agree to adaptations being carried out at a particular property and will instead offer support and assistance to customers to enable them to move to more appropriate accommodation or to accommodation that could be more suitably adapted to meet their individual needs.
• We will work within the framework of our Asset Management Strategy, having regard to investment and maintaining the long term “lettability” of our properties.
• We will ensure that we will publish clear and concise information and service standards for customers concerning the adaptation services that are available and how these can be accessed.
• We will set aside a specific budget to assist customers to attain adaptation work and any adaptations that are deemed necessary and affordable will be provided to customers using a range of funding mechanisms.
• We will plan and carry out adaptation works in order to ensure that they are completed as soon as is practically possible taking into account their relative complexity and available resources.
• We will develop a register of adapted properties so that, where possible, re-lets can be matched with customers’ individual needs.
• We will use customer profiling information to predict future demand and set aside appropriate budgets.
• We will work with customers to establish service standards including maximum acceptable timescales for adaptations to be assessed and carried out.
• We will, wherever possible, ensure that any necessary adaptation works are carried out as part of the investment programme. This commitment to investment standards that improve accessibility should, over time, reduce the pressure on the adaptations budget. An example of this in practice is the sheltered housing standard, which includes the replacement of baths with showers during bathroom improvement work.
• Before any programme of work is started we will, within the scheme, identify homes that have already been adapted as well as customers requiring adaptations. This will ensure that their needs are considered and supported during the programmed works.
• Where adaptations are required in homes within investment areas, we will, wherever possible and practical, provide these as part of the programme.

2.2. Definitions

Adaptation

For the purpose of this policy, and the related procedure, an adaptation is an alteration or addition to any aspect of a property which is provided in order to make it easier or safer for use by an older person or a disabled person. This may be the customer or a member of their family or household and throughout this policy references to the customer will include their family or household. The assessment of the specific needs of the customer and recommendations of what adaptation work is required would usually result from an assessment from an occupational therapist.

Occupational Therapist

An allied health professional who is nationally certified to practice occupational therapy. The OT uses purposeful activity and interventions to maximize the independence and health of any client who is limited by physical injury or illness, cognitive impairment, mental illness, or a developmental or learning disability. Services include the assessment, treatment, and education of the client or family; interventions directed toward developing daily living skills, work readiness, or work performance.

Social Model of Disability

The Social Model of Disability makes the important difference between “impairment” and “disability”. The Social Model has been worked out by disabled people themselves and shows that disability arises from the barriers presented by society and the built environment rather than being inherent in the person themselves. These barriers include people’s attitudes to disability, and physical and organisational barriers.

Disability

A disability is defined by the Disability Discrimination Act, 1995 as a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on the ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.


2.3. City West’s approach
2.3.1. City West Housing Trust recognises that disability can take many forms and can affect a person’s ability to fully access and enjoy their home.

2.3.2. City West is committed to developing an organisational culture which values people from all sections of the community and the contribution each individual can make to our work.

2.3.3. This policy sets out our approach to responding to the needs of our disabled customers in a sensitive, efficient and responsible way.

2.3.4. This policy applies to all customers who require adaptations to their home as a result of age or disability either for themselves or a family member who is permanently residing at the customer’s home.

2.3.5. The policy does not apply to leaseholders. However, all necessary guidance and support will be offered to leaseholders to enable them to access Salford City Council’s adaptation service.

2.3.6. We aim to take a proactive approach by way of promoting equality of opportunity for disabled people in terms of their housing experience.

2.3.7. We will make the best use of our housing stock in an attempt to ensure that disabled customers are enabled to access and live in housing that is appropriate to their needs.

2.3.8. We will ensure that all disabled adaptation works carried out represent value for money, are of good quality, meet the needs and aspirations of our customers, are appropriate for the property type and minimise future maintenance costs.

2.3.9. City West will deliver a comprehensive adaptations service to its customers for both major and low cost adaptations, which will be delivered internally through its own maintenance services or through a range of partners.

2.3.10. Low cost adaptations that do not need an occupational therapist assessment will be progressed and delivered internally by City West through its maintenance services. Some low cost adaptations will also need to have an occupational therapist assessment. The surveyor from City West, in liaison with the Neighbourhood Officer, will undertake a home visit in both of these scenarios.

2.3.11. Major adaptations require an occupational therapist assessment and any associated referred works will be progressed and delivered through the most appropriate contractor available.

2.3.12. City West will continuously improve our services through partnership arrangements and a best practice approach.

2.4. Adaptations information
2.4.1. City West will publish information on its website and provide a customer information leaflet on how customers can access adaptations.

2.4.2. Any adaptations completed will be recorded on City West’s database and the information will be used to inform the appropriate allocation of properties.

2.5. Customer advice
2.5.1. City West will ensure that all its staff are provided with appropriate training and information to enable them to confidently and competently offer clear and consistent guidance to customers in relation to adaptations and how to access this service. This will be supported by external support specialists when necessary.

2.6. Service Standards
2.6.1. City West will work with customers to develop and agree service standards in connection with adaptations. These will include timescales for the referral, assessment and completion of the works, quality of the service and customer satisfaction. These will be regularly reviewed and matched with customer feedback, demand and available resources.

2.7. Customer satisfaction
2.7.1. Customer satisfaction with the adaptations service will be measured throughout the process, from referral to completion of the works. The results of the feedback including any complaints received will be analysed on a regular basis and used to deliver improvement actions. These improvements will be agreed with customers.

2.8. Maintenance of adaptations
2.8.1. Once adaptations have been installed, City West will maintain and repair these through its repairs and maintenance service to ensure they remain effective and in good working order. These works will be raised and delivered in accordance with the appropriate standard repair timescales.

2.9. Rent and Service Charge Implications
2.9.1. The weekly rent of a property will only be increased following adaptation works if the work has resulted in additional rooms. Conversely the rent may be reduced if a bedroom is lost in order to accommodate adaptation works. A service charge will be introduced where adaptations require a maintenance contract to be taken out to maintain/service equipment installed such as stair lifts.

2.10. Assessment of adaptation requests
2.10.1. The assessment of an individuals need for adaptations remains the statutory duty of the local authority through its Community Occupational Therapy service. City West will continue to use this service when appropriate and will monitor performance, on behalf of customers, against nationally recognised performance standards. However, there may be occasions when waiting times for assessments are excessive due to increased demand for service or a quick assessment is necessary, and to meet the needs of customers, this policy will allow for the provision of independent Occupational Therapy Services. This will be facilitated through the most appropriate solution and may include the purchase of private OT services or secondment through partner organisations. In all cases of assessment, the Assistant Director of Investment and Regeneration must be satisfied that the assessment and the associated recommendations are balanced and reasonable.

2.10.2. Following an adaptation request by a customer, where an Occupational Therapist assessment is considered to be necessary, City West will arrange for an Occupational Therapist to visit, discuss individual needs and assess whether or not adaptation works may be necessary and appropriate to meet the long term needs of the individual.

2.10.3. City West accept that on occasions, specialist advice following assessment may differ. In circumstances where there is no agreement between the parties involved about the nature and/or scope and scale of the adaptation work required, the Assistant Director of Investment and Regeneration will make a final decision in consultation with all involved based on reasonableness.

2.10.4. An Occupational Therapist will visit and carry out the assessment within 2 months of request. If Salford Disability Service cannot respond within this timescale we may, in certain circumstances, consider commissioning assessments from a range of sources to avoid delays in the process.

2.10.5. Following an adaptation request by a customer, where an occupational therapist assessment is not considered to be necessary, City West will visit and assess the works that may be required. This visit will take place within 10 working days from request.

2.10.6. City West will develop its internal skills and capacity in relation to adaptations to ensure that for simple and low cost adaptation requests, these can be assessed and delivered through its maintenance services, in a timely manner.

2.10.7. Other occasions where assessments from other professionals may be accepted due to their specialist expertise and often in-depth knowledge of the customers who are requesting the adaptations would include:
• Royal National Institute for the Blind/Deaf;
• HIV/AIDS specialists;
• Age Concern.

2.11. Delivery of adaptation works
2.11.1. Following assessment, any necessary and appropriate adaptation works will either be progressed by City West either through its maintenance services or through its contractor framework, dependent on value and complexity. The customer will be notified of this at the time.

2.11.2. Where City West have assessed the adaptation works or following an Occupational Therapist assessment, the works are estimated to be less than £1000 in value (Low Cost/Minor Adaptations), the works will be completed within 3 months from the date of assessment.

2.11.3. Where, following an Occupational Therapist assessment, any necessary works are estimated to be more than £1000 in value but less than £6000 (Major Adaptations), the works will be completed within a maximum of 9 months, from the date of the assessment, either through the adaptations service or through a planned works scheme.

2.11.4. Works in excess of £6000 will always be subject to a review to consider alternative solutions, which may include external funding sources or re-housing to a more appropriate property.

2.11.5. The health and safety of customers is of critical importance and therefore as part of the planning and organisation of the works, an assessment will be made of the potential impact of the delivery of the adaptation works on the health and safety of the resident. This assessment will determine whether the customer can stay in the property during the works, what measures need to be taken to protect customers who remain in the property and what degree of respite facilities (if any) need to be provided.

2.12. Delivery timescales
2.12.1. City West will work with customers to review the adaptations waiting list and the achievement of service standard timescales for OT assessments and the delivery of the works with the primary objective of reducing these over time.

2.13. Refusal of Adaptation Requests
2.13.1. City West are unlikely to invest in the provision of adaptations where the benefit achieved for the resident is short term , it is not reasonable or practicable or where strategically, it makes no sense to do so. Such circumstance may include:

• When the applicant occupies a property that is scheduled for modification or major refurbishment within the next two years;
• Where the resident is actively seeking rehousing;
• Where the tenancy is less than 12 months old;
• When the adaptation requested is not structurally practicable;
• Where a property is under-occupied and extensive adaptations are requested;
• Where a request is made to provide a level access shower above ground floor level. Future lettability becomes an issue as many disabled people with mobility problems who could benefit from such a shower may have problems negotiating stairs.
• where provision is requested for use of a motorised scooter, unless the resident is unable to access their home without such provision;
• where a Long Ramp is required in order to provide access to the front door.

2.13.2. In cases where it is not reasonable or practicable to carry out the necessary adaptation work to enable the customer to live independently in their own home, City West will look to offer the customer alternative and more suitable accommodation.

2.13.3. City West will subsidise the cost of moving to a more suitable property as follows:

• A £200 moving in voucher;
• Up to £250 towards the purchase and fitting of carpets;
• Payment of removal costs up to £300;
• Mat emulsion painting of 2 rooms.


2.14. Funding in addition to City West
2.14.1. Customers may wish to fund their own adaptations, particularly where there is no formal recommendation, an application for funding through the organisation is not supported or there is ineligibility for grant funding. In these cases, customers will be required to:

• Obtain written permission from City West to complete the works;
• Provide City West with details and drawings to allow an effective evaluation of the proposed works;
• Complete works using a competent qualified contractor;
• Allow City West to inspect the works on completion;
• Sign appropriate documentation to transfer ownership of any equipment or fittings installed if they require City West to maintain the equipment or fittings beyond any manufacturers guarantee.

2.14.2. Where customers on the approved list awaiting adaptations wish to fund their adaptation ahead of the timescale provided, City West will contribute one third of the total cost of the scheme up to a maximum value of £3000. In such circumstances City West will:

• Undertake the work;
• Obtain the appropriate finance from the customer in advance of the works;
• Where the customer requires City West to maintain the equipment or adaptation past the manufacturer’s guarantee, a signed agreement from the customer passing ownership of the equipment or adaptation to City West will be required.

2.15. Legislation
2.15.1. The legislative framework, although complicated, is quite clear. Whilst there are duties upon RSLs to consider housing conditions and provision within their area, there is no legal obligation upon RSLs to undertake adaptations to its properties.

2.15.2. Although no specific obligations exist upon RSLs in this domain, it is accepted good practice for responsible social landlords to respond to the needs of its disabled residents.

2.15.3. A plethora of legislation and regulations surround the provision of Adaptations more generally. The principle ones may be outlined as follows:

3) How the policy will be delivered


3.1. The implementation of this policy will be carried out by the Adaptations Service.

3.2. If staff become aware that there are problems with effective operation of the policy or the associated procedures, they should report this to the policy owner. This feedback will be incorporated into the policy / procedural review process.

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