Headlines: August 6th, 2001

New research has shown the added value of simple things like home adaptions for people with disabilities.It has also led to a call for further cross-cutting investment into home adaptions, claiming that they save the NHS and social services budgets from other more expensive outlay.

The research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation shows that improvements from grab rails to walk-in showers or downstairs extensions are successful in improving the health and safety of disabled people and have, in many cases, transformed their lives.

Disabled people who described themselves as ‘prisoners’, ‘degraded’ and ‘afraid’ to researchers before the work was carried out, frequently used terms like ‘independent’, ‘useful’ and ‘confident’ afterwards.

‘Money well spent’ goes so far as to claim that their positive effects, which include reducing the need for hospital and residential care, suggest they are a highly effective use of public money and deserve increased investment, particularly from health budgets, because of their demonstrable preventative effect.

Frances Heywood, a Research Fellow at the University of Bristol and author of the study, says home adaptations deliver many of the Government’s key social care objectives – they keep people out of hospital, reduce the strain on carers, improve the dignity of disabled people and enable them to lead fuller, more socially included lives. For disabled children and their siblings, they improve educational and life chances.

Currently the annual spend on such adaptions runs at 220 million pounds a year – almost all from housing resources.

Money well spent: The effectiveness and value of housing adaptations is found in summary form on the Foundation’s website at http://www.jrf.org.uk/ .