My Department provides funding to local authorities under the suite of Housing Adaptation Grants for Older People and People with a Disability, to assist people in private houses to make their accommodation more suitable for their needs and also facilitate the early return from hospital stays. The detailed administration of the grants including their assessment, approval and prioritisation, is the responsibility of the local authorities.
Under the grants, the applicant engages the tradespeople directly and consideration has not been given to the establishment of a dedicated specialised building unit. However, the majority of local authorities can provide applicants with an informal list of local building contractors who have completed grant-related work. This list is not endorsed by local authorities but is intended to assist applicants if requested.
My Department has previously requested that all local authorities establish contact with the hospitals/convalescent homes in their areas and to prioritise applications from eligible applicants, whose discharge from hospital is dependent on the timely adaptation of their homes. My Department has also met recently with all local authorities where this practice was discussed and it is planned to develop this service further as a priority.
I believe that the availability from local authorities of lists of local building contractors who have completed grant-related work, the continued and enhanced level of contact between local authorities and hospitals/convalescent homes and the prioritisation of applications where discharge from hospital is dependent on the timely adaptation of homes, is a meaningful response to the challenge faced in the situations described.