Welsh Government policy requires the adoption of Trusted Assessors within Social Housing

The Welsh government supports the advice of RCOT, the professional body for Occupational Therapists, in advocating the use of Trusted Assessors for many housing adaptations. In its Guidance for Registered Social Landlords, published in March 22, it states that ‘Relying solely on local authority or private OTs is an ineffective and inefficient use of scare resources. Making use of Trusted Assessor accredited skills can reduce work pressure on OTs (Occupational Therapists), remove bottlenecks and reduce delays in undertaking the most common types if adaptations. Implementing a TA training and accreditation plan will be a condition of PAG funding from April 2023.’

‘PAG’ funding is for Physical Adaptations Grants and funds are allocated to social housing providers on an annual basis. Funding in 2023-24 has been allocated to 24 organisations in Wales eligible to receive the funding with allocations ranging from just under £30,000 through to over £1.3 million in the largest award. Grants are offered for medium to larger adaptations projects and standards of service are set out in government guidance.

In its Guidance document the following points were made in the introduction:

  1. Disabled people and older people with limiting health conditions who live in suitable accommodation that meets their specific needs can maintain their independence and achieve significantly improved health and well-being. The use of adaptations, modern digital healthcare solutions and telecare mean older and disabled people can live independently for very much longer than in the past. This has a significant impact on health and care services, reducing the number of hospital admissions and length of stays, as well as reducing the number of people who require residential care. Adaptations can make a significant contribution to supporting the model of health and care delivered closer to home set out in A Healthier Wales.
  2. For these reasons, the role of being a provider of adaptations goes beyond acting as an agent for the tenant, installing adaptations and equipment or procurement and oversight of construction work. All providers of social housing and adaptations providers funded by public money in Wales are part of an integrated housing, health, and social care agenda. This role is formally recognised through the statutory role of housing partners on Regional Partnership Boards, established under the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014, whose primary purpose is to plan for the health and social care needs of the population.
  3. Disabled people often have trouble finding suitable accommodation that meets their requirements. Planning the use of adaptations funding can help to increase the stock of permanent accessible housing in Wales, especially where the adaptations involve extensions or significant internal reconfiguration and works over the £36,000 upper limit for Disabled Facilities Grants (DFG). It is critical that proper consideration is given to the long-term use of housing made accessible through the investment of PAG funding. A more strategic approach can lead to sustainable investment planning which is aligned with the principles in the Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015.
  4. To provide greater consistency of delivery across Wales, Welsh Government has published Housing Adaptations: Standards of Service for the delivery of housing adaptations. The aim of the Standards is to set out the level of service for the delivery and installation of a housing adaptation that service users can expect, regardless of their geographic location and tenure. The Standards are monitored annually and published in the high-level analysis of data returns.
  5. During autumn 2021, the Welsh Government consulted on a Housing Adaptations Strategic Framework with the aim of ensuring more integrated working between adaptations providers to improve access to services and reduce inequities based on geography and tenure.

Throughout the guidance regular reference is made to the integrated role of Trusted Assessor working jointly with Occupational Therapists where needed. It is pleasing to see the degree of commitment through policy directives underlining the expectation that the role should be planned and used.

Welsh Government’s report High-level Analysis of Data on Housing Adaptions 2019-20 published in July 2021 identified the main predicted outcomes from over thirty thousand assessments undertaken in Wales in one year and these were their findings in ranked order:

  1. Falls prevention
  2. Increased independence in daily living
  3. Prevent hospital admission
  4. Allow hospital discharge
  5. Increased access into and around the home

TACT is delighted to have trained a recent cohort of learners from Wales and West Housing Assocation, one of the major providers of social housing in Wales and we look forward to supporting others in training and accrediting their staff in support of this adaptations work.

For more information, or to have a chat about implementing or developing a Trusted Assessor programme within your organization, please reach out to us through our Contact Us page.