Headlines: May 11th, 2007



New research has claimed that greater investment in home adaptations to allow more disabled people to live independently would lead to savings in health and social care budgets. The research was commissioned by the Office for Disability Issues and shows investment in independent living would not only benefit individuals but also wider society.

The study, “‘Better outcomes, lower costs”, was part of the ODI’s Independent Living Review, which is looking for imaginative but practical solutions to support greater independence for disabled people. It summarises existing evidence on savings to health and social care budgets as a result of investment in housing adaptations and improvements.

Its key findings show that adaptations such as better lighting can reduce falls leading to hip fractures, which cost 726 million pounds in 2000. They also reduce the incidence of depression which improves mental health and can also cut the number of falls. Adaptations and equipment can also prevent hospital admissions or speed up patients’ release from hospital. The study quotes figures from the Welsh Care and Repair Agency’s Rapid Response programme, which put savings at between at 4 million and 40 million pounds.

Potential savings of ten million pounds a year can be made, the study says, in the cost of residential care in England and the right adaptations can reduce high levels of home care. Current estimates put the cost of an hour’s home care per day at 5,000 pounds a year, opening the possibility of annual savings of millions of pounds.

The report’s authors say their evidence supports recommendations from the Audit Commission for greater investment in adaptations and equipment to secure better value for money, reduce waste and deliver better quality of life.