Screen Shot 2016-05-12 at 15.44.48A specialist service designed to support the wellbeing of older and vulnerable people across County Durham is continuing to provide a vital lifeline, with 7744 referrals received into the service during the past 12 months.

The County Durham Handyperson Service, operated by Four Housing, provides practical help and advice to individuals who are over 60, disabled, at high risk of falling or who are vulnerable in other ways, and is designed to help customers to live independently, safely and comfortably in their own homes.  It can be accessed by individuals county-wide, whether they are in social housing, private rented accommodation or are an owner occupier either on a self-referral basis or referrals through social care and health professionals.

The County Durham Handyperson Service has received over 64,686 referrals and has carried out a staggering 96,871 pieces of work for clients across the county since it was set up in 2009.  The service is delivered by a team of eight skilled tradespeople who undertake small handyperson tasks and minor repairs (up to two hours) including replacing lightbulbs and cords, moving furniture, minor plumbing works and putting up shelves; minor adaptations; telecare equipment installation and home safety checks. The team is supported by a team of highly experienced administrators who prioritise the calls and act as the first point of contact for clients accessing the service.

Mrs Radford from Stanley is just one individual who has experienced the benefits of the County Durham Handyperson Service first-hand when she was saved from a potentially serious fall just two weeks after her Occupational Therapist recommended that a grab rail was fitted.

She said: “I have mobility problems and it can be very awkward getting down the step to get in and out of my bungalow into the backyard.  For something that doesn’t seem like such a big thing it’s been invaluable.  It had only just been fitted when I slipped going down the step. “Being able to grab onto the rail stopped me from taking a major impact and potentially ending up in hospital.

“Services like the County Durham Handyperson Service that help address safety issues through minor adaptations can have a really positive impact on an individual’s health and wellbeing.”

Meanwhile 66 year-old Jennifer Morgan, who has occupied her home in Sherburn Village for almost forty years, has accessed the service on a self-referral basis for several years.

She said: “For the past few years I’ve had to contend with a number of health issues, so managing small jobs around the house had become even more of a concern, I was particularly worried about falling and the impact that could have.

“Changing a lightbulb sounds like a small job I have a really awkward one on top of a kitchen cupboard that requires climbing up ladders and a tricky balancing act.  I know that if I was to fall I could break a hip so it’s not worth the risk so that’s something the handyperson team has done regularly for me.  The handyperson service has enhanced my quality of life immeasurably and taken away a lot of stress, worry and anxiety. It really is priceless.”

Stephen Errington, Services Manager at Four Housing, said: “The County Durham Handyperson Service offers a vital service not only to hospital discharge patients to help them adjust to being back in their homes, but for older people and vulnerable individuals who need some extra assistance with tasks around the home.  Some of the jobs undertaken by the handyperson team, like changing a lightbulb, might be taken for granted by many people, however carrying out such a task could pose a serious risk to an older or vulnerable person’s health and wellbeing.  Four Housing is committed to helping people to live independently in their homes for longer and it’s really encouraging to see that this service is playing a vital role in helping people to do just that.”

The County Durham Handyperson service is a jointly commissioned service funded by Durham County Council, North Durham Clinical Commissioning Group and Durham Dales, Easington and Sedgefield Clinical Commissioning Group.

For further information about accessing the County Durham Handyperson service please call 0300 456 2220 or email handyperson@fourhousing.co.uk

For more information about Four Housing, visit: www.fourhousing.co.uk