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National evaluation of the ‘Handyperson’ programme

Posted on 27 January 2012

As our society ages, there will be a greater imperative to provide services that enable older people to live independently in their own homes and reduce the need for other more costly services.

A new report by researchers from the University of York makes a strong case for supporting Handyperson Services. These services provide much valued practical help with “odd jobs”, small building repairs, minor adaptations such as the installation of grab rails and temporary ramps, as well as offering home safety and energy efficiency checks.  The report shows Handyperson Services offer value for money, and also have many “value added” benefits for older people.

Handyperson services are assisting large numbers of older, disabled and vulnerable people to live independently in their own homes for longer

Karen Croucher, Centre for Housing Policy

The report will be of interest to all those involved in commissioning and providing health, social care, and housing services for older people and other vulnerable groups.

Karen Croucher, Research Fellow at the Centre for Housing Policy, who led the research said: “Handyperson services are assisting large numbers of older, disabled and vulnerable people to live independently in their own homes for longer in greater levels of comfort and security.  They offer an important safety net for older people, and they also enhance the effectiveness of health and social care provision through the delivery of often very simple and very low cost interventions. 

“Services are consistently highly rated by people who use them, and they are valued for their trustworthiness, reliability, quality, and crucially for the skills and respectful attitudes of the staff.  Our work has demonstrated that handyperson services provide value for money, and while this is the overriding message, the “value-added” aspects of services can only strengthen the case for supporting these services.”

Mrs P and her husband, both in their eighties, are very typical of the people who use handyperson services. They live in an ordinary bungalow, and Mrs P cares for her husband who is very poorly since having a stroke. The local handyperson service has carried out a number of small jobs in their home which have helped her continue to care for husband. As she explained: “My daughters won’t let me use tradesmen out of the papers, it has to be someone we know, we are very vulnerable, and there are too many cowboys around, so having someone you knew was solid was really very helpful. It’s nice to have someone I can allow into the house and not worry about.”

Domini Gunn, Director of Public Health and Vulnerable Communities at the Chartered Institute for Housing, said: "This report is essential reading for everyone concerned and interested in meeting the challenges of providing practical support to vulnerable people in their homes. The evaluation report clearly evidences the benefits of these services in providing help to older and vulnerable people struggling to live independently in their homes.

“The importance and impact of small scale work to allow people to live safely and well is not widely understood and this report should be used to raise awareness and promote the art of the possible. The report deserves a wide audience across health, social care and housing so that the multiple benefits of these services can be better understood and supported. The report demonstrates how Handyperson's Services significantly improve people's quality of life."

Lord Richard Best, Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Housing and Care for Older People, said: "This important report underlines some key messages from the "Living Well at Home" Inquiry carried out by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Housing and Care for Older People earlier this year.  It makes clear that the lives of older people can be made safer, homes can be made more accessible, warmer and more manageable, and there can be huge savings for the NHS and social care providers.  Karen Croucher and colleagues at the University of York deserve our sincere thanks."

This research was commissioned by the Department for Communities and Local Government.  The report is available from the Department’s website at the following link:

Notes to editors:

Contact details

David Garner
Senior Press Officer

Tel: +44 (0)1904 322153

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