Surrey County Council
In 2016 Surrey County Council on behalf of itself and 11 district and borough councils commissioned Foundations**, the national body for Home Improvement Agencies (HIAs), to investigate ways in which there could be a more standardised way of working between the eleven councils in the county. Foundations produced a number of recommendations following which Surrey created a temporary Programme Manager post. Alyson Smith was appointed in 2017 and she was then responsible for overseeing the work to implement the recommendations.
Surrey began by exploring the customer’s typical journey and timelines for accessing services for vulnerable residents with the goal of understanding what “good” looked like. They wanted to improve hospital discharge provision and also the links between the multidisciplinary teams involved in the care of vulnerable residents.
When professionals and service users were interviewed a number of areas for improvement emerged. One major area was the need to better integrate the work amongst OTs and the HIA in providing assessments. Waiting lists varied amongst the localities but demand for social care assessments was generally high. Foundations recommended that trusted assessors could be used to reduce the demand by training a range of staff to carry out basic assessments.
Surrey CC highly values its handyperson services: not only in providing improvements to the homes of vulnerable people but that they also represent a clear link between housing, health and social care. The work that they do day-to-day enables and encourages partnership working between the three disciplines and the positive outcomes have a huge impact on the service users’ lives. “Medical professionals can be daunting. Handyperson services are a friendly face and people let their guard down and more information can be gathered about the issues they face and how we can help them” Alyson explained, “It made great sense for them to be trained as trusted assessors”.
The handypeople undertook Level 3 Trusted Assessor training which enabled them to have a good understanding about the equipment they would be installing, how to measure service users to ensure equipment fitted correctly, how to check the environment was safe for equipment to be installed, to verify that the person could use the equipment safely and that it solved their difficulties. They were also taught demonstration skills and most importantly when to refer the service user on to an OT.
Alyson reported that the process of organising the bookings with DLF was “Smooth, easy, very flexible and accommodating to our needs; I wouldn’t have changed anything.”
Learners were said to be happy to be trained and that following the course they are more confident in identifying needs and are happy to be in a position to do something about the issues that they come across on a daily basis. “The handyperson services now see the bigger picture and have a deeper understanding of risk and issues that clients face. They know what to do now when they see a risk. They are more confident in taking measurements and prescribing equipment for residents which has been beneficial and appreciated by the wider teams. “
Surrey plans to broaden the reach of the training to more learners within the home improvement agency and adult social care teams so that service users with low to moderate needs can have quick access to an assessment by a confident and competent member of staff meaning that they can continue to live safely and independently within their own homes.
Note: There is a two tier system of local government in Surrey, the county council and the 11 district and borough councils.:
- Elmbridge Borough Council
- Epsom and Ewell Borough Council
- Guildford Borough Council
- Mole Valley District Council
- Reigate and Banstead Borough Council
- Runnymede Borough Council
- Spelthorne Borough Council
- Surrey Heath Borough Council
- Tandridge District Council
- Waverley Borough Council
- Woking Borough Council
** For more information about Foundations, visit Foundations