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Community equipment, assistive technology and adaptation services

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Key market messages as at March 2018

Our two main priorities for these services are as follows:

  • To improve access to information, advice and guidance to promote early awareness and wider use of the equipment available in the broader retail market place for anyone who may benefit from its use, their carers and care and support providers. 
  • To carry out our statutory responsibilities for people with eligible needs through our contractual arrangements for equipment and adaptations. 

 Alongside this:

  • Staffordshire County Council is keen to encourage providers of assistive technology, community equipment and telecare to focus on the retail market for their products and services.
  • Providers can register for an account to list the services they provide on the Staffordshire Connects website. This is a key resource for individuals, families and carers who are looking for equipment to support with daily living. 
  • Information and advice is available on the equipment and technology webpage, so that people can find out about equipment options sooner and can make informed decisions on what equipment or aids to buy either privately or with a direct payment. We are also:
    • Working, both directly and through our contracted social care providers, with voluntary and retail sector organisations to raise awareness of the types of equipment available and where people can get it from.
    • Offering solution-focused advice, including equipment options, through Staffordshire’s Contact Centre, to individuals at their first point of contact with us and signposting people who do not have eligible care and support needs to the Staffordshire Connects website.
    • The equipment and technology web page on Staffordshire Connects includes:
      • An equipment and technology area;
      • a link to a catalogue of equipment and living aids;
      • a link to an online self-assessment tool, AskSara;
      • areas where product suppliers and retailers can advertise.
  • Providers of equipment and technology-enabled care solutions can rent a stand at Staffordshire’s bi-annual Managers Quality Network Forum to market their products to around 200 people from the adult care provider market place. For more information about the Managers Quality Network Forum visit the Care Market Development Team Training and Events page.
  • We encourage all providers of care and support to consider how they can adopt assistive technology and technology-enabled care solutions as an integral part of their delivery models to improve business sustainability, workforce planning, service provision, the cost and quality of services and ultimately to support health, wellbeing and independence to reduce reliance on health and care services. 
  • Care and support providers can find useful information about the use of simple, relatively low cost assistive technology in the Box of Trix Directory on Staffordshire Connects. Care and support providers can also find out more about assistive technology and purchase their own ‘Box of Trix’ from Medequip to demonstrate the types of equipment available and let users try it out.

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Introduction to services

The role of adaptations, community equipment and assistive technology is helping people to live independently in their own home for longer. 

We are working with six District/Borough Councils to provide Staffordshire’s Disabled Facilities Grant adaptations service called Supporting Independent Living in Staffordshire. 

We have joint contractual arrangements in place with Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Clinical Commissioning Groups and Stoke-on-Trent City Council for the provision of an Integrated Community Equipment Service.


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Demand for services

We anticipate that demand for equipment and adaptations will increase because of the trends in the aging population and increasing frailty and the council’s policy to enable people to remain independent for as long as possible. Market Position Statement Intelligence documents contain more information on Staffordshire’s demographics and adult social care needs.

The Disabled Living Foundation’s Key Facts web page sets out several key national statistics around the disability equipment industry. This includes:

  • There were around 1.9 million households with at least one person who felt they required some adaptations to their home due to their conditions.
  • It is estimated that the market for equipment for people with a disability in the UK increased by 12.4% between 2009 and 2013. 

There does not appear to be any national data on the size of the self-funder market for equipment or assistive technology as most people will buy directly from online or high street retailers and purchases will range across all forms and sizes of assistive technology, community equipment and telecare from self-pouring kettles to geographical tracking devices. This is still an emerging market place, however, in Staffordshire we estimate that only 8-10% of the population will be supported by the Integrated Community Equipment Service contract. However, the vast majority of the demand for community equipment is outside the contract. 


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Services we commission

a. Disabled Facilities Grant assessment and advice service - Support for Independent Living in Staffordshire

Millbrook Healthcare provides the Support for Independent Living in Staffordshire service, and contractual arrangements are in place to 31/03/23 with an option to extend them to 2025.

Staffordshire County Council is working in partnership with district and borough councils in Lichfield, Newcastle, South Staffordshire, Stafford, Staffordshire Moorlands and Tamworth to commission an all-inclusive adaptation, assessment and advice service called Support for Independent Living in Staffordshire. 

This service provides information and advice to support independent living, home assessments and home adaptations including support to access funding, grants or loans, designing works to meet personalised needs, and selecting and managing building contractors. This all-inclusive service provides support for people who either choose to self-fund, or who do not qualify directly for local authority grant funding. 

The council makes a charge for adaptations that cost more than £1,000, and people with eligible care and support needs will be financially assessed to determine their financial contribution. Minor adaptations costing less than £1,000, including the cost of buying and fitting any adaptations, are generally provided free of charge to people who are eligible for care and support.

The main function of this service is the provision of the Disabled Facilities Grant, which is a means-tested financial grant available for people who are disabled and need to make changes to their home. The grant helps meet the cost of adapting a property where a disabled person lives and can be used for a variety of adaptations such as:

  • Installing access ramps or widening doorways;
  • Improving access to rooms or facilities such as installing a stair lift or a downstairs bathroom;
  • Providing a suitable heating system or improving controls for heating and lighting.

Demand data from 2015/16 and 2016/17 which was prepared for the 2018 tender showed that the service received around 80 enquiries per month, with a drop-out rate of 35% (28 cases). There is limited data for enquiries but for works 66% of applications were for level access showers or stair lifts, which rose to 76% in some areas.

Staffordshire County Council receives the Disabled Facilities Grant funding allocation through the Better Care Fund allocation however legal responsibility for the provision of the grant remains with the housing authorities within the district and borough councils.

 The delivery of a Staffordshire-wide service, which includes the provision, delivery and installation (where appropriate) of a wide range of stock by one provider, is complex and a major logistical challenge. There is a limited market place of national and local providers who are interested in delivering this assessment and advice service. 

b. Integrated Community Equipment Service

Medequip currently provides the integrated community equipment services for Staffordshire (including Stoke-on-Trent) on behalf of the two Local Authorities and the NHS. This is a limited and specialist market, consisting of 3 or 4 national providers with two dominant providers who hold most of the market share.

Staffordshire’s Integrated Community Equipment Service provides equipment to support people with eligible health or social care needs in the community. It is commissioned as a partnership between Staffordshire County Council, Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Clinical Commissioning Groups, and Stoke-on-Trent City Council. The contract is currently in the process of being retendered on behalf of these two partnerships. 

The Integrated Community Equipment and Support for Independent Living in Staffordshire services both provide community equipment and give advice and guidance to adult social care providers and individuals on self-help and prevention.

The Integrated Community Equipment service loans equipment following an assessment from a health or social care prescriber such as an occupational therapist, physiotherapist or community nurse. Subject to a person’s eligibility and means testing, certain basic equipment may be provided free of charge, whilst there is a charge for other equipment. The service provides equipment for nursing at home, equipment for daily living and communication aids. Equipment available includes hoists, commodes, raised toilet seats, shower chairs and minor adaptations such as support rails and grab rails. 

This service offers a limited choice of basic equipment. Individuals may choose to access a wider range of equipment by contributing towards the cost.

c.  Telecare and Assistive Technology

Staffordshire County Council does not directly commission telecare monitoring services and people who are assessed as having an eligible social care need and the potential to benefit from telecare are given a Direct Payment to purchase a monitoring service. 

Within the council, we are supporting people to find out more about telecare and assistive technology and have access to the information they need to purchase telecare services and equipment that meets their needs by:

  • bringing them into the mainstream;
  • encouraging the development of a retail model for wider public access/use; and
  • raising awareness so that individuals, families and carers can actively choose low level technological solutions to meet their care and support needs. 

We are linking the use of assistive technology to Public Health work streams including prevention, and work being done on frailty, localism and the falls pathway. 

Increasingly assistive technology, telecare sensor devices, mobility aids and community equipment products are available via high street shops, supermarkets, online retailers and even market traders. The trend of high street and online retailers moving into this sector challenges the traditional dominance of disability shops and leaves a gap in the information and support available to people who are buying their own equipment. 

Equipment and technology information on the council’s website signposts the public and care and support providers to equipment available and where to buy it from. This web page also contains links to self-assessment services and specific information for people who get in touch with our Contact Centre. 

We are also working with the Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, the voluntary sector and providers of adult care and support services to increase earlier intervention by improving information on what’s available and where to buy it.

The council funds a range of alarms, aids and sensors that can be linked to telecare monitoring services for people with an eligible social care need through Integrated Community Equipment Service and these are also available for private purchase. 

Further information is available in a printable PDF document. 


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Contact us

Community equipment providers can contact us by emailing the Health and Care engagement inbox:

healthandcare@staffordshire.gov.uk


You can also  download this document for offline viewing (813 KB)

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