White Rose Home Improvement Agency information handbook

Find out about the services the White Rose Home Improvement Agency offers.

The White Rose Home Improvement Agency is a non-profit making organisation jointly established and managed by us.

Our aim is to assist older, disabled and vulnerable people to stay independent in their own homes by providing advice and support with adaptations, repairs, and maintenance in addition to providing information and advice about other housing related support. The agency has an advisory group, which meets quarterly to provide support, advice and guidance with the development of the agency and its services. It is made up of people representing different client groups such as Age UK, disability action groups, local councillors etc.

Our service to you

Our service to you is tailored according to your needs. Our officers will assess with you what you need and what our service can offer to you. This is flexible, so if you do not agree with anything we suggest or if your needs change, our service to you can change. You have the right to change your mind about using our service, and this will not affect your right to use the service in the future.

As a summary, we can offer a quality service to you that may include all or some of the following:

  1. Providing support, information and advice either at your home or over the telephone and carrying out a support plan to identify your support needs and how we will help you to achieve them
  2. Providing you with information about other local services you may be interested in and arranging for you to receive these services
  3. Providing information about ways to pay for the work you require and helping you to apply for any available grants, loans and charitable funding
  4. Keeping you notified of the process throughout every stage by letter, telephone or visit. 
  5. Providing technical advice and information on improvements and adaptations
  6. Carrying out a technical survey of the work, preparing a schedule and any necessary drawings, so that you and your contractors are clear about what works are required. For smaller adaptations such as wet floor showers and ramps, we will provide you with access to a framework of contractors who have agreed to provide high standards of work, high levels of customer care and warranties. For larger scale adaptations, helping you to find contractors to carry out the work, obtaining and checking the quotations, and helping you decide which contractor to use. We will also act as contractor administrator should you chose to use a formal contract. 
  7. Providing a comprehensive service which may include the submission of any necessary applications to building control or planning departments
  8. Informing you of any start and finish dates, monitoring the work and inspecting it before making payments to the contractor on your behalf.

Wellbeing service

The agency’s Well-being service is a comprehensive service providing free home visits centred on home safety. We can visit your home and provide you with information about the local services that are available where you live, which will enable you to stay safe and independent in your own home.

As part of our visit we may look at: 

  • improving the security and fire safety of your home
  • energy efficiency and reducing fuel bills
  • information on technology aids and adaptations that can assist your independence 
  • identifying social and recreational activities to combat isolation and loneliness
  • identifying financial benefits you may be entitled to 
  • identifying areas in your home where accidents can be avoided

Handyperson service

The agency operates a handyperson service. 

The service helps people with small jobs and minor adaptations around the home and is available to older, disabled and vulnerable people.

For example, we can:

  • change light bulbs 
  • put up shelves/erect flat pack furniture
  • secure loose carpets or rugs around the home - but not fit carpet
  • fit replacement door/window locks 
  • supply and fit key safes 
  • fit plastic and metal grab rails 
  • fit mop stick handrails 
  • fit external handrails

These are only a few examples of how we can help you, no matter what work you need, always feel free to ask. If we cannot help we may be able to suggest someone who can.

Unfortunately, we are unable to do: 

  • any gas works 
  • any electrical works
  •  any jobs at height

For small repairs work a charge of £15  - including VAT - is made, plus the cost of any materials purchased by the handyperson on your behalf. The majority of minor adaptations will be provided and installed free of charge.

Adaptations: prioritising your enquiry

We are committed to meeting the needs of disabled people through the disabled facilities grant programme. 

On occasions where demand for grants is high, a needs- based prioritisation system is utilised in order to deal with the enquiries effectively. Further information will be provided in these situations. 

Disabled facilities grants help disabled and older people to live more comfortably and independently in their own home.

A disabled facilities grant can be used to:

  • make it easier for you to get in and out of your home
  • make access to your living room, bedroom, kitchen or bathroom easier
  • provide suitable bathroom, sleeping and kitchen facilities that meet your needs
  • adapt heating and lighting controls for ease of use 
  • provide you with adequate heating to meet your medical condition
  • make your home safer

Assessing your needs

An occupational therapist will need to assess your needs to identify the type of works you require. The assessment will normally be provided by us. However, we may decide to use a private occupational therapist where appropriate. 

The home improvement agency will use the information contained in your assessment to create a schedule of the required work and obtain the necessary permissions and quotations for the work. They will then process and approve grant applications and oversee the adaptation process. Some grants are means-tested. In these instances, we will carry out a means test as soon as possible to ascertain whether you are eligible for a grant. However, if you fail to qualify, we can still support you through the adaptation process.

Carrying out the work

Arranging and having works carried out to your home can be a stressful time for anyone. However, once your case has been allocated to an officer we can assist you with the following:

  • carrying out technical surveys and preparing schedules of work/drawings
  • for smaller adaptations such as wet floor showers and ramps, we will provide you with access to a framework of contractors who have agreed to provide high standards of work, high levels of customer care and warranties
  • for larger scale adaptations, helping you to find contractors to carry out the work, obtaining and checking the quotations, and helping you decide which contractor to use. We will also act as contractor administrator and where appropriate utilise a formal contract
  • instructing architects and submitting planning and building control applications on your behalf 
  • completing application forms and certificates and copying financial information to enable us to submit grant applications on your behalf
  • assisting you to arrange start and finish dates for the work and carrying out pre-site visits if necessary.
  • monitoring on-going work, assisting you to resolve any disputes and making interim payments to contractors
  • carrying out final inspections, completing paperwork and making final payments

Client / contractor relationship and liability

Most works for disabled people are exempt from VAT and so the VAT element will not be included in the grant. Your contractor may ask you to complete a VAT exemption form. As you are the legal recipient of the grant you are the employer of the contactor(s) and ultimately responsible for all contractual matters arising and for all costs which are not met from the grant. 

You must ensure that works are completed to your satisfaction. All arrangements regarding commencement of works, programme of works, working hours, use of private facilities etc. are strictly matters between you and your contractor(s). Works must be completed within 12 months of the grant approval and you must declare any relationship you may have with the contractor to the agency.

The agency endeavours to ensure that contractors provide you with the highest levels of workmanship and customer care. You will be asked to comment on the works before final payment is authorised. If you are unhappy with any aspect of the works, we will try to resolve the matter. However, if the works have been carried out to a reasonable standard and the contractor has met the requirements of the occupational therapist, payment will be made.

Future maintenance

Neither the agency nor your council are liable for the future maintenance of any work carried out to your home. Once the works are completed you will therefore be responsible for any future maintenance or repairs that may be required. However, some contractors will provide you with a fixed warranty - we will advise you if this applies to your work. 

During and after the works 

The contractors should use dustsheets and within reason, take all necessary precautions to protect your furnishings, from dust, debris and the effects of work. This will not absolve you of your responsibility to protect your furnishings and belongings in your home of which you have prime responsibility.

Carrying out the work

You must allow the contractor all reasonable access to carry out the work at reasonable times convenient to you both. You will be responsible for any additional work that you instruct the contractor to do without our written agreement and you will be held liable for the full payment of any unauthorised work. We therefore strongly recommend that you discuss additional works with your technical officer. 

Should you have any concerns regarding the loss of any facilities while the works are on-going, such as removal of the toilet, contact the agency or your occupational therapist to discuss alternative solutions.

If you identify any faults, have any other worries or disputes in relation to the work you should inform us immediately. Once the works are complete, you will be responsible for the future maintenance of the adaptation. Neither the council nor the agency is liable for the maintenance or repair of any adaptation.

Health and safety

If we assist you to have your home adapted or repaired our technical officers will ensure that any risks to you while the work is in progress are kept to a minimum and will pass on any concerns or observations to your contractors. Where construction, design and management regulations apply, further information will be sent to you and your contractor, before works start. You should ensure you understand your responsibilities in terms of this. Should you have any questions regarding this, please do not hesitate to speak to your technical officer.

The cost

All the technical advice and any other advice and information we give is free.

White Rose Home Improvement Agency helps you to get the adaptations or repairs carried out, by assisting you through the building process and/or accessing funding for the work. 

All work is paid for by you – that may mean you paying for the work yourself if you can afford it, or it might mean you applying for a grant which may pay for some or all of the work. 

When our technical officers give you practical support, such as writing a schedule of the work involved, obtaining quotes and overseeing the work, we will ask you to make a contribution to the cost of the service if you are able to afford it. 

If you receive a disabled facilities grant for the adaptation, it is likely that we will be able to claim this cost as part of this funding. The majority of minor adaptations carried out by the handyperson services are free of charge. However, a small charge may be made for minor repairs and odd jobs. Any charges will be discussed and agreed with you prior to the works being carried out. We are keen that people are not deterred from using any of our services because they cannot afford to pay. Speak to a member of staff if you are concerned about the cost.

Choices 4 Energy

Choices 4 Energy is an energy efficiency information and advice service aimed at providing advice on how residents can save money on their energy bills. 

Collective energy switching

To help residents get a better deal on their energy bills we work with switching partner, iChoosr, who run many energy switching schemes across the country. The aim of the scheme is to make it easy and simple for you to consider switching. We also use collective purchasing power to try and secure better deals for everyone.

How the scheme works

Anyone who pays a household energy bill and who is interested in saving money by switching energy suppliers can register for free. Registration is easy but you will need a copy of a recent energy bill to complete the process. 

When registration closes, iChoosr will invite energy companies to offer their best prices for energy to everyone in the scheme.

You will receive a personal offer on the new tariff secured by the scheme and based on the information you gave. You will also see exactly how much money you might save if you were to accept the offer. 

There is no obligation to accept and there are no fees or charges if you do not switch. You simply get a new offer that could potentially save you money on your energy bills. 

For full terms and conditions and to register online, contact us.

Make sure you have a recent bill to hand as we need details on how much energy you use and who you pay your bill to  - a bill based on actual readings will be more accurate.

Oil buying cooperatives

We also deliver an oil-buying co-operative. Residents can save on their heating bills by being part of the oil-buying cooperative. The more members the oil-buying co-operatives has, the better the savings that can be achieved. You can find the full terms and conditions and register online or contact us

Data protection and confidentiality 

At the White Rose Home Improvement Agency, we respect your confidentiality and treat all information received in the strictest of confidence. We will not discuss any details about your circumstances with any other person or organisation without your prior consent.

What we do with the information you give us

All the information that we ask you for will enable us to assess with you what services we can offer to you. For example, if we are trying to access a grant for you for adaptations to your home, we may need to ask information about your financial circumstances. This remains confidential and will only be used for the purposes that we agree with you.  

We are asked by our funders to provide statistical information about the services we have offered and the people using the service. All statistical information is compiled on a computer database, and all monitoring reports are anonymous, and cannot be related to you in any way.

In publicity materials and funding bids to charitable trusts, we sometimes find that the use of case studies is helpful to demonstrate the importance of our service. All personal details are changed, and we ensure that a person cannot be identified in the case study.

If you do not want the details of our work with you used in this way, do not hesitate to contact us and we will ensure that your case details are not used. 

A copy of our data protection policy is available on request.

Equal opportunities and fair access

White Rose Home Improvement Agency supports the principle of equal opportunities both in employment and the way we offer our service. We aim to ensure that nobody is treated less favourably than others because of their gender, age, class, race, ethnic or national origin, religion, colour, creed, caring responsibilities, marital status, sexuality, physical ability or mental health. 

We have policies and procedures in place that cover this.

If you are interested in any of the above or require any other assistance which is not listed, do ask us about it and we will discuss this with you.

Listening to your views

Your views and comments about our service are very important to us. We are always learning and need to know what works and what does not. Any comments will be used to review and improve our service. 
Following any work that we assist you with, we will ask you to complete a satisfaction questionnaire about our service and about any contractors who worked at your home. If you have any problems with the building work, either while the work is being carried out or afterwards, contact an officer who will assist you. 
If you have any other concerns, raise them first with the member of staff involved. If this is not appropriate or you have any complaints about the service that you have received, contact us at the office to request a copy of the complaints procedure.

What to do if you do not want to use the agency services

It is your choice as to whether you wish to use the comprehensive services available to you through the agency to carry out works to your home. 

You can if you wish proceed with the works on your own.

In order to submit a full and valid disabled facilities grant application to us you will need to:

  • satisfactorily complete and sign the relevant grant application form, or forms, including where appropriate completed certificates of future occupation
  • provide at least two suitable estimates for the works
  • provide up-to-date evidence of your financial income and savings, including benefit entitlement, wages and any stocks, shares or other capital or income you receive, as requested in the appropriate application form

In order to consider the application, we must also consult with the local occupational therapy department to ensure that they can recommend the works as being necessary and appropriate. On receipt of this recommendation, an officer will visit to determine whether the works are reasonable and practicable and to agree the grant eligible works.

Upon receipt of a full and valid application, we have six months in which to refuse or approve your grant application. Should your grant application be approved you will then be fully responsible for arranging the work, liaising with contractors/architects seeking all relevant permissions, such as building control and for ensuring that all works are completed to your and our satisfaction.

Customer charter

We aim to provide you with a caring, reliable and efficient service, which will include:

  • treating you with dignity and respect
  • valuing cultural and social preferences
  • a flexible personal approach, listening and responding to your needs
  • explaining clearly your options 
  • keeping you informed of progress
  • fair and open access to service
  • treating all your personal information in a confidential manner

To help us to achieve these aims and provide the best service possible, we ask you to: 

  • keep us informed of your needs 
  • be courteous to our staff and your contractors
  • let us know your views on our service

Safeguarding adults

Everybody has the right to live their life free from violence and abuse, to be protected from harm and exploitation and to independence, which involves a degree of risk. 

The safeguarding adults policy applies to adults who may come into contact with health and social care services and may need some support to maintain their independence and live in a safe environment. 

In particular, it applies to adults aged over 18 who may have learning or physical disabilities, mental health problems, are old, frail or ill or who cannot always take care of themselves or protect themselves without help. 

If you, or someone you know, is being abused and needs help to stop it

Abuse can happen to anybody. It is not your fault. Abuse is a violation of a person’s human and civil rights by any other person or persons. It may be a single or repeated act or acts, be physical, verbal, psychological, sexual, institutional, discriminatory or financial or be an act of neglect or failure to act.

What you might notice

These are only a few examples of possible signs, none being conclusive on their own:

  • injuries, for example, a slap, being restrained in a chair, given too much medication
  • being involved in a non-consensual sexual act
  •  weight loss or dehydration
  • lack of personal care
  • bills not being paid or sudden loss of assets
  • not getting to medical appointments
  • an overly-critical or disrespectful carer who may for example be bullying or, undermining
  • deference or submission to a suspected abuser
  • change in behaviour or mood
  • isolation from usual network of friends/family or community and so on

The person abusing you or someone you know could be anyone, including a member of your family, a friend or neighbour, a paid or informal carer, a professional – for example a GP, a nurse, a stranger, a bogus worker. It could be more than one person. 

Abuse can happen anywhere, including at home, in a care home, in hospital, in sheltered housing, in supported living centres, at day centres and other day services or outside. 

Anyone who has contact with vulnerable adults and hears disclosures or allegations, or has concerns about potential abuse or neglect, has a duty to pass them on appropriately. The alerter may also be the service-user or a member of the public and has a role in addressing any immediate safety or protection needs.

If you, or the person you are concerned about, are in immediate danger you should ring the Police on 999. If you, or the person you are concerned about, are not in immediate danger, contact us

The adviser who you speak to will listen to you and refer your concerns onto a specialist worker who will contact you and arrange to see you to find out what help or support you might need. 

How we can help

The agency can offer support, guidance and a means of putting victims in touch with the relevant support and will: 

  • listen to your concerns and take them seriously
  • make sure that you are not in any immediate danger
  • seek your agreement before involving others who may be able to help. In some situations we may not be able to do this
  • work with you to find out what the best course of action is for you
  • do all we can to protect you and to help you to remain living as independently and safely as possible 

White Rose Home Improvement Agency takes a zero tolerance approach to allegations of abuse and neglect.

North Yorkshire has a multi-agency policy, procedure and guidelines for responding to the abuse of vulnerable adults.

This means we have an agreement where organisations work together with the person who we think may be abused, to safeguard that person, and take what actions we can.

All our staff have undertaken training in this area.

If you need assistance, please ask.

For more information, advice and assistance, contact us