The government will support 15 new locally dedicated support services across the country to help up to 10,000 older people stay independent for longer, Housing Minister Kris Hopkins announced today.
The new local FirstStop services, supported by £1 million government funding, will give older people a helping hand to stay independent and make choices about where and how they live in later life.
Opening one of the new services in York, Mr Hopkins said FirstStop already had a strong track record after helping 20,000 older people last year.
FirstStop works with partners such as Age UK, local councils and home improvement agencies to provide tailored advice and practical support for older people who may be struggling to cope in their own homes but remain determined to keep living independently.
FirstStop helps older people by offering:
- support with adaptations: giving advice on estimates from local contractors, and helping to ensure people get the best value for money as well as offering advice on how to cope while the work is in progress
- a handypersons scheme which carries out simple but essential works such as small home repairs and jobs around the house at a reasonable cost
- financial advice and help to get the best utility deals and make homes more energy efficient
- help with housework and shopping
- befriending services and organising social meetings between friends
Housing Minister Kris Hopkins said:
It’s natural that older people want to remain independent in their own homes, which they have worked hard for and built so many memories in. This government is determined to enable more people to do just that.
As we get older we not only need to change the way we live, we need to change we the homes we live in. This can be a daunting task, so the free advice and practical support provided by FirstStop is invaluable.
That’s why I’m delighted to be in York to open the new FirstStop service in the city. It will be run with support from the government, and is one of 15 new local services that will help up to 10,000 older people remain independent and continue to live in their own homes.
While in York the minister met with the older members of the community visiting Auden House, an older persons housing scheme in the city centre, to get more information on housing and support for older people and to hear about the local FirstStop service.
The minister heard the story of Mr and Mrs Roberts* who had recently met with FirstStop.
After a recent accident the Roberts’ realised they were facing difficulties living in the home they had owned for so long. Dreading the thought of having to move out they contacted York FirstStop.
After discussing options such as installing grab rails and ramps at the access points, getting the odd jobs around the house taken care of and having warden call installed, they realised that there were many other options that would enable them to stay in their family home and FirstStop would be there to help them put it all in place.
They remarked getting support had taken a huge weight off their minds and would give them the confidence to continue living their lives with the independence they cherished.
Councillor Tracey Simpson-Laing, Deputy Leader of City of York Council with portfolio for Health, Housing and Adult Social Care, said:
We’re delighted to welcome the minister to York and to launch the FirstStop project in our city. By 2020, we expect the number of people aged over 85 years to increase by 60% and the funding we have won to take further forward our work to support older people’s housing options is both much-needed and timely.
John Galvin, Chief Executive of Elderly Accommodation Counsel (EAC), the charity behind the FirstStop initiative, said:
I am delighted to see this new local service open its doors, and very much welcome the government’s support for it. Helping older people ensure that their homes suit their changing needs can improve their lives enormously as well as reduce the risks of illness and accidents and all the costs these incur.
New FirstStop: local partners
View details of FirstStop local partners:
Marion* recently suffered a stroke and after spending a month in hospital her speech and mobility was still impaired. She was referred to the Housing Options Advice service by an advocate at Kingsmill Hospital.
When Age UK Notts was alerted to Marion’s plight, she was found living alone at home, she had no heating or hot water and was also suffering abuse from her neighbour. Age UK Notts helped Marion by contacting the local council and completing a Homesearch application on her behalf as well as filing a safeguarding report about the abuse. Within the span of a few days, Marion has been viewing suitable properties and she is looking forward to a fresh start in a new home.
In the words of Marion “My Housing Options Advisor re-assured me and boosted my confidence when I felt most vulnerable and emotional. I didn’t have anyone to turn to and I certainly wouldn’t have known how to get the help I needed without Age UK Notts.”
Ed*, aged 68, in poor health and recently bereaved, was in debt and facing a court hearing to repossess his house when he was referred to Margaret McCann, Age UK Wigan Borough Housing and Care Options Adviser. Margaret recognised the complex nature of his situation and has worked with a number of different agencies to identify the best way forward for Ed. Thanks to her actions he is on the way to being rehoused and his debts being addressed. Margaret will be working with Care and Repair Wigan to help him with the move and with a local charity to help him furnish his new home. And it doesn’t stop there, because Margaret is also working with other local services to find support for Ed through his bereavement. Ed says “I feel much better with Age UK’s support. It has been very hard to cope since I lost my partner and I will be so relieved once I am settled in my new home and I can put all this behind me.”
Mr P contacted Age UK West Cumbria as he was finding his large 4 bedroom house difficult to manage. The Housing Options Adviser visited Mr P at home to discuss his housing options. Mr P has lived in the property for over 30 years and does not feel ready to downsize or move into sheltered accommodation. The Housing Options Adviser referred Mr P to local social services for an Occupational Therapist Assessment to look at providing aids and adaptations to make his property more suitable and safe for him. She also completed an Attendance Allowance application for Mr P and put a weekly cleaning service in place for him. Mr P said, “I was so worried that I would have to move home but I am reassured now. I hope that my home will be suitable for me for many years to come.”
*Names have been changed