Home improvement agencies
Home improvement agencies are local organisations dedicated to helping people of all ages who are vulnerable, have a disability or a limited life expectancy (including older people, babies and children) to live safely and with dignity in their homes.
Services focus on making sure that existing housing is fit for purpose and that vulnerable people, mainly homeowners, private renters and housing association tenants can continue to live independently for as long as possible.
There are some 200 home improvement and handyperson service providers in England. Locally they may be known as Care & Repair or Staying Put agencies. Many services are operated by housing associations, some are provided ‘in-house’ by local authorities, while others are small independent organisations, usually with charitable status. Together, home improvement and handyperson services provide support for over a quarter of a million people every year.
Care & Repair England is a small, national charitable organisation set up in 1986 to improve the homes and living conditions of older people. It believes that all older people should be able to live in a decent home of their own choosing.
Every home improvement agency provides a range of services depending on the needs of the local community. Services can include the following:
- Providing a list of reliable local builders and contractors.
- Visiting you at home to give advice about any problems you have with the condition of your home.
- Setting out your housing options and helping you decide which is best for you.
- Helping you obtain other local support services.
- Checking whether you are entitled to any financial help (for example, disability benefits, or money to help you repair or adapt your home).
- Helping with any work you decide to have carried out on your home. For example, drawing up plans, getting estimates and liaising with others involved in the work, such as council grants officers and occupational therapists.
- Additional services such as a handyperson services, to carry out small jobs around your home, help with gardening, or coming home from hospital.
- Helping to make your home more energy-efficient.
The first visit and advice is free. Most home improvement agencies charge a fee if you decide to go ahead with any work using their assistance, which can normally be included with any grant you are eligible for. It is your decision whether you want the home improvement agency to help, and any costs will be discussed and agreed with you first.
Foundations is the national body for home improvement agency and handyperson services. Their website includes a useful directory of services across England.
Local home improvement agencies
Cambs HIA works in Cambridge, Huntingdonshire and South Cambridgeshire. Cambs HIA can offer:
- knowledge and expertise about home repairs, maintenance and adaptions.
- information and advice about the options you have to deal with unsuitable housing.
- project managing works from start to finish.
- guidance and assistance with funding applications to your local council or other funders.
- use of our approved and experienced contractors.
- other sources of support and information and assistance that may be useful.
CambsHIA will charge a fee for helping you improve or adapt your home.
In Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire, council tenants need to go direct to the council for information and advice about works to make your home suitable for your needs.
Care and Repair services assist elderly, disabled and vulnerable people in East Cambridgeshire to organise building related works to their own homes that will allow them to remain living independently, safely and comfortably.
Here is a link to East Cambridgeshire Care & Repair services.
Kings Lynn and West Norfolk Care & Repair is the local home improvement agency covering Fenland.
"We exist to help people live independently in their homes by providing the range of services set out below. Our aim is to deliver these services in ways which are flexible, sensitive and responsive to the individual needs of our clients. Please note that:
Most of our work is aimed at helping owner-occupiers and private tenants,
There are charges for some of our services.
Although our priority is to help people who are defined as 'vulnerable' by the government we may also be able to assist those who are not on benefit, subject to the pressure of priority work."
You can find a page of information specifically for Care & Repair in Fenland here.
West Suffolk (Forest Heath & St Edmundsbury)
Orbit Care & Repair provides a home improvement agency service across Babergh, Forest Heath, Ipswich, Mid Suffolk, St Edmundsbury and Waveney districts. Here is a link to Orbit Care & Repair webpage
Care and Repair Peterborough assists disabled, aged and vulnerable people to adapt and maintain their homes and where appropriate access funding for work. The agency is part of Peterborough City Council and is in an excellent position to help clients access housing grants, including
- Disabled Facilities Grants, following an occupational therapist assessment in all cases and means tested where appropriate
- Repair Assistance Grant, to tackle serious health and safety hazards in properties, all applicants are means tested
- Other funding alternatives include approaching charitable organisations, benevolent funds etc.
Care and Repair’s aim is to assist people to continue living independently in their own homes and ensure those homes are safe and warm. Care and Repair also runs a Handy Person Scheme to help households occupied solely by elderly and/or vulnerable people living in the Peterborough area. The scheme is free and is available to home owners and tenants who are elderly or considered vulnerable. Residents are only asked to pay for the cost of materials used.
Here is a link to more information for Peterborough Care & Repair.
Guide to our local health network
CRHB produces a diagram of the health and wellbeing network to help people understand how groups link, and some of the areas and issues different groups cover. This is not exhaustive but aims to help people make a start on understanding "the system" locally, especially in a time of rapid change.
Cambridgeshire Health and Wellbeing Board
The Cambridgeshire Health and Wellbeing Board and Network brings together leaders from local organisations that have a strong influence on health and wellbeing, including the commissioning of health, social care and public health services.
You can find out more here.
This map shows which GP practices work together in Local Groups.
This network helps people have their say on local health and social care services by linking them to the organisations buying and providing care.
Healthwatch collects people's stories and experiences of using local health and social care services - and shares that information - pointing out the good and helping to improve care where it is needed.
Healthwatch Cambridgeshire is asking housing providers (for example, housing associations) to help - to make sure as many people as possible across the county know how to have their say on health and social care issues which matter to them.
To start the process off, here is a briefing note setting out the offer. It includes details of who to contact if you are a housing provider who'd like to get involved, to make sure your residents know all the ways they can have a say.