One of the highlights of my past year was undoubtedly visiting and talking to older people who have used the Preston Care & Repair handyperson service.
I carried out these interviews in connection with writing our latest report Small but Significant: The impact and cost benefits of handyperson services.
Over and again, I was struck by the psychological impact of the very existence of the local (independent, not for profit) Care and Repair service. Knowing that there was someone to turn to who was trustworthy, would do a good job at an affordable rate when something went wrong with their home was incredibly important, particularly to older single women.
“I’m very happy in my little flat and I don’t want to move. Before [Preston] Care and Repair, when there was something that needed doing [to the flat] I would wake up every morning and lie there thinking ‘How can I get this done’. I don’t want to go down the road of my home declining, I want to get repairs sorted – knowing Care and Repair is there to call on makes all the difference.” Mrs Y, 84yrs
In the service user feedback survey 96% of older people said that the Preston Care & Repair handyperson service made them less worried about their home and 100% said that they would recommend the service to others.
The extent to which ‘older old’ people, especially women living alone, were turning to Preston Care and Repair was also an outstanding feature. Nearly half of the service users are over 80yrs (46%), 77% are older women, and 72% are older people living alone.
Increasingly we have to make the case for service continuation based on cost benefits, particularly to the NHS. These groups of older people are higher risk in terms of NHS use and so here again, we see that handyperson services provide an exceptionally high rate of return on investment for health and care services.
By analysing just the falls prevention impact on a small number of higher risk cases, applying robust national evidence from Public Health England, we found that for every £1 spent on the handyperson service the saving to health and care is £4.28. In addition there are many other fiscal and social gains e.g. improved wellbeing, reduced anxiety, hospital discharge etc.
However, it is the effect on the quality of life of individuals through reduced worry and peace of mind that for me, emerged the most significant benefit. This has been a consistent finding in successive evaluations, going right back to the very first Care & Repair England report in 1993, and including the major national government commissioned handyperson services evaluation published in 2012.
Mrs X, 75yrs, so clearly sums it up “….. It makes me feel that I can manage. It is such a relief when you have never had to do these things and you don’t know where to turn to.”
Link to short summary brochure here