The housing adaptation system in Wales is ‘complicated, reactive and unfair’

Thursday, February 22, 2018 - 12:45am

Customer satisfaction is high, but this masks a system that’s not delivering for all those who may need it, says Auditor General

The current system for delivering housing adaptations needs to change in order to meet the needs of older and disabled people in Wales. That’s the conclusion of a report by the Auditor General for Wales.

Roughly, 70 agencies deliver housing adaptation services assisting over 32,000 people a year. Annually, over £60 million of public money is spent on these services to older and disabled people. They help restore or enable independent living, privacy, confidence and dignity for individuals and their families. Adaptations also offer an efficient and effective way of making the best use of the existing housing stock in Wales by supporting people to live independently.

Our report concludes that high satisfaction ratings mask a hugely ‘complicated, reactive and inequitable system’. The conclusions include:

  • Assessment processes are not streamlined or efficient, which lead to delays which can be the difference between people staying in their own homes or moving into specialist care.
  • The complex systems used to deliver adaptations  make it difficult for people to get the help they need and often stops health professionals  from using adaptation services.
  • There is not enough joined up working between agencies and local authorities which is making it harder for those in need to access services.
  • The adaptations disabled and older people can receive are often determined by where they live in Wales and who they seek help from rather than their need. 
  • Public bodies are not improving performance because of limited oversight of performance across Wales.

The report makes 9 recommendations for improvement, which include:

  • The Welsh Government should set a minimum standard for all adaptation work, so people can receive the same standard wherever they live.
  • Local authorities need to work more closely with partner agencies who deliver adaptations and streamline the application and delivery processes.
  • More accessible versions of information should be provided to the public, including braille, large fonts, audio versions and other languages.

The Auditor General, Huw Vaughan-Thomas said:

“Demand for housing adaptations is projected to rise. That’s why it’s so important that public bodies improve how they deliver adaptations and address the many weaknesses in the current complicated and inefficient system.

People deserve the very best standard of service to help them live independently. Unfortunately, public bodies have failed to address some long standing weaknesses in current arrangements and disabled and older people are the ones losing out. This needs to change. My recommendations are aimed at helping kick-start much needed improvement.”