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Home adaptations to help disabled residents resume, as services continue to restart in response to the coronavirus

Published: Friday, 19th June 2020

Work to install stair lifts, ramps and other adaptations to help disabled people in their homes will restart on Monday (22 June) as council services continue to resume in response to the pandemic.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council has announced surveys will take place in 46 properties, with works starting in a further 43 council properties and 31 privately owned homes.

Government coronavirus guidelines had temporarily restricted the service to emergency work only, identified by social care occupational therapists who work to support disabled residents in their homes. Now the rest of the service is set to resume from the start of next week.

Council leader Abi Brown said: “We’re pleased to announce that more services are resuming, as we respond to the coronavirus in a managed way, and continue to meet the needs of residents.

“During the lockdown restrictions, our teams carried out critical works in 19 homes, after assessments by occupational therapists. Now we are able to carry out more works. Before teams go into people’s homes, checks are made with residents to ensure that it is safe for the adaptations to take place.”

As well as stair lifts and ramps, work will also include adaptations such as level-access shower installations and property extensions. In some cases the city council will not be able to carry out work if the resident is shielding and there is no direct risk if the changes are not made now.

The installations will be prioritised based on residents' needs and to ensure the safety of the public and workers.

Residents are asked to please be patient as both Unitas workers and housing teams work through a backlog of adaptations.

Meanwhile, the council will also restart inspections of private sector properties from Monday (22 June), where the tenant has reported that their landlord has not responded, or failed to undertake a repair.

Officers will inspect houses of multiple occupancy, to ensure that they comply with safety standards, and they will also look into reports of nuisance within properties. Empty homes officers will also inspect properties and work in the community with residents.

Meanwhile, thousands of residents have been benefiting from online library services during the lockdown. So far, 210 more people have become members of council libraries across the city online since the pandemic. Library services have seen 751 new e-book registrations and 3,217 e-books issued over the past three months. The use of digital magazines has risen sharply, with 1,883 accessed in May and 4,290 accessed in the past three months. The number of online resources used across library services hit 4,264 last month and 9,738 in total during lockdown.

Councillor Brown said: “More people than ever before are using our library services online, and staff have worked hard throughout the lockdown to increase the range of digital services available and to make them as accessible as possible.

“For example, people who sign up for provisional library membership online can get access to all of the service’s e-audiobooks and e-magazines. Library users with a standard membership card number, which begins with the numbers ‘28080’ are able to access a full suite of online services, including e-audiobooks, e-books and e-magazines.

For more information on digital library services, visit www.stoke.gov.uk/libraries. The service is also running a number of activities and challenges on social media. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/stokeontrentlibraries or www.twitter.com/SoTLibraries.

The council is also reminding businesses of the increased risk of Legionella bacteria being present in premises when people return to buildings after lockdown.

Public protection teams have contacted around 3,000 businesses across the city to advise them of the steps they should take.

A combination of warm external temperatures and low use of water systems may give rise to an increased risk of conditions in which the Legionella bacteria can grow.

It is essential that water systems are not put back into use without considering this. Businesses need to flush their water systems before reopening.

Controlling the risks of Legionella is a legal requirement for all duty holders and they should have a water risk assessment and plan in place, which will identify what measures are necessary.

The water checks or services undertaken before lockdown should be reinstated before the buildings reopen to ensure the water does not pose a risk to health.

The city council's public protection team has also identified approximately 60 high risk businesses in the area and contacted them to give advice and guidance. Officers are also dealing with several enquiries from other companies who have requested information. Businesses that wish to seek advice can contact public.protection@stoke.gov.uk.

For more information and advice on coronavirus (Covid-19) please visit Public Health England:

https://publichealthmatters.blog.gov.uk/2020/01/23/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-what-you-need-to-know/ and the NHS: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/.

All residents are reminded about the critical importance of regular handwashing with soap and hot water for 20 seconds. The significance of this action cannot be underestimated.

For more information on digital services, visit www.stoke.gov.uk, download the MyStoke App, or follow the city council’s social media channels.