Whatever our age, keeping on top of home repairs and maintenance is never ending.
For the ‘busy and better off’ we see an emerging service sector linked to the tech industry that will sort out just about any aspect of your home, from just finding plumbers to also being there to let them in when you are out at work and cleaning up afterwards.
If you are living alone, ‘just about managing’ on a low income, and no longer able to do small jobs yourself because you are older and less mobile, home repairs can become a major source of worry and anxiety.
This is why, for more than three decades, Care & Repair England has pioneered and promoted the critical role of affordable, trustworthy handyperson services as a key element in enabling lower income home owners to live safely and well at home as they age.
Local services that receive local authority support continue to decline in the face of the reducing council funds, and anything that seems to be a ‘useful to have’ rather than a mandatory duty is first in the firing line.
Unfortunately, the demise of prevention really is storing up problems for the future, and the inevitable consequence will be more and more crises, with NHS services in the front line.
This is why the focus for our recent national event was Small but Significant – Innovation, Impact and Evidence: Practical housing interventions to improve older people’s health and wellbeing
With the support of the British Society of Gerontology (BSG) and the University of Manchester’s Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing (MICRA), this national conference examined the cutting edge practice, evidence and related policy in relation to increasing safe independence at home for older people through practical housing interventions, such as handyperson services.
We heard how handyperson services are being linked in with ambulance service responses, to hospital discharge systems and pro-active home safety interventions.
What is striking in all of the cutting edge practice is its fragility. It is based on small scale, fixed term pilots, short term contracts, stop-start funding, with constant uncertainty for providers and practitioners.
A coherent new national initiative is urgently needed that will once and for all firmly embed handyperson services into preventative, integrated health, care & housing systems.
After all, Small Things [really do] Matter