Free home safety checks helping older people

Over 65s are being offered free home safety checks thanks to a Public Health Agency (PHA) partnership with Belfast City Council, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust and Bryson Energy.

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Through the Belfast Handyperson Home Safety & Repair Scheme, a Handyperson will visit the older person’s property and identify areas of risk and give information, advice and support on how to make the home safer, and provide a home safety pack.

There are now more than 40,000 people aged over 65 years living in Belfast, so in recognition of the increased risk of falls and other accidents occurring in the home as people get older, this scheme is enabling older citizens to live safely in their homes.

Sarah Reid, Senior Health and Wellbeing Improvement Officer at the PHA, said: “The home safety and repair service is an important way of improving the lives of one of the more vulnerable groups in our society and keeping them safe in their homes.

“Older people can be more susceptible to falls and accidents and by helping them to remove potential dangers in the home, it helps keep them safe and supports their independence.

“Practical advice and help is given by the Bryson Energy handyperson, like how to store electric cables properly so you don’t trip over them, or fixing  loose carpets, and these are the small things that all add up to make a safer home.

“The scheme is enabling more people to live independently at home reducing the need for care packages and placements in nursing and residential homes.”

More than 300 households have already benefitted from the initiative with the handyperson having helped Belfast residents by fitting curtain rails, repairing doors, fitting door chains, changing light bulbs, fixing loose floorboards and clearing paths.

One Belfast resident who has benefitted from the home safety checks is 65-year-old Mary Drumm. The south Belfast resident said: “The handyman scheme is brilliant and something that I think can help a lot of people. I live in a three-storey house and it was just getting too much to get to my bedroom on the top floor – my knees aren’t what they used to be. I wouldn’t be able to move furniture and didn’t have any male relatives that could help. Then Age NI told me about the handyperson service and when I contacted Bryson, Vincent came out and did a full check of the house and helped me move my bedroom furniture down to the middle floor. It doesn’t sound like much but believe me I couldn’t have coped without it.”

Councillor Matt Garrett, Chair of the People and Communities Committee in Belfast City Council, said: “This is a very useful service which we support and often recommend. We support it because it came from a wish and need expressed by older people themselves. I am always delighted to hear the positive feedback about the service.

“At this time of year I am sure the demand for it – as we all prepare our homes for winter – increases. It provides an invaluable service not just in doing the jobs older people can no longer do for themselves, but in keeping them safe by undertaking practical work around their homes and in offering advice which they can put into practice in their daily lives.”

To find out more or to arrange a visit call 0800 1422 865 (calls are free from a BT landline).

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