Independent Living ‘Takes Pressure Off’ Social Care

Savings to health care and social care budgets could be made by investing in housing adaptations, and investment in independent living benefits individuals and wider society, according to research published today by the Office for Disability Issues (ODI).

The research was commissioned by the ODI as part of its Independent Living Review to identify imaginative and practical solutions to support independent living for disabled people.

‘Better outcomes, lower costs’ summarises existing evidence relating to savings to health and social care budgets as a result of investment in housing adaptations and housing improvements. Key findings are:

– Falls leading to hip fracture cost the UK £726 million in 2000.
– Housing adaptations, including better lighting, reduce the number of falls.
– Housing adaptations can also reduce depression, which in turn may both reduce the number of falls and improve mental health.
– Providing adaptations and equipment can speed hospital discharge or prevent hospital admission by preventing accident and illness. Estimated savings from the Welsh Care and Repair Agencies’ Rapid Response programme are between £4 million and £40 million.
– Adaptations support carers, preventing back injuries and reducing both carers’ stress and health service costs.  Supporting carers may enable an individual to remain at home rather than being admitted to more costly residential care.
– Good housing adaptations can enable seriously disabled people to move out of residential care, with estimated potential savings of £10 million a year on residential care costs in England.
– Home modifications can prevent or delay residential care for disabled older people.  One year’s delay will save £26,000 per person, less the cost of the adaptation (average £6,000).
– The right adaptations can reduce high levels of home care.  An hour’s home care per day costs £5,000 a year – the potential savings per year would be millions of pounds.

The evidence in the report supports the Audit Commission’s recommendations for greater investment in adaptations and equipment to secure better value for money, reduce waste and deliver better quality of life.

‘The costs and benefits of independent living’ summarises existing evidence about investment in independent living. The key findings are:

– There is substantial qualitative evidence that independent living provides significantly more benefits for individuals than more traditional service responses.
– There is some evidence that enabling independent living costs less to deliver. A change in delivery model would require additional resources but over time these would be recouped in savings.
– There is evidence of significant costs for the Exchequer in not addressing barriers faced by disabled people;
– However, a more systematic cost benefit analysis of the impacts at individual, service delivery and macro-economic levels needs to be conducted.