Extra handy van to help county’s vulnerable

Derbyshire’s Handy Van Network is planning to expand to offer equipment that will help hundreds more vulnerable people to live safely and independently in their own homes.

The Derbyshire Handy Van Network is coordinated by Derbyshire County Council in partnership with Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service and local district and borough councils.

The service, run on a day-to-day basis by local agencies, is free and delivers practical support to older and vulnerable people in their own homes, helping them to stay independent and live safely.

Following a decision by Derbyshire County Council’s Cabinet, the Handy Van Network is planning to expand from this autumn to include Telecare services for one year.

To deal with the extra demand it will also increase the number of vans in its fleet from 11 to 12.

People who will be considered for Telecare services include people at risk of falling, people who have had a fall, people with certain medical conditions like epilepsy or diabetes and those who have recently left hospital.

Handy Van staff will receive extra training to help them assess who may be suitable to receive Telecare services.

Telecare consists of a range of equipment that can be installed in people’s homes to help keep them safe.

This will include installing sensors, pressure mats and a fall detector in people’s homes and providing them with an alarm pendant they can wear around their neck, wrist or waist to alert alarm call centre staff if they fall or need help.

The cost of adding Telecare services to the Handy Van Network will be £250,000 and an estimated 550 extra clients will be supported over the 12 months of the extended service.

People who are assessed as being eligible and who would benefit from Telecare will have equipment installed in their homes for free and they will pay a maximum of £5 a week for the service.

Since its launch in 2008 Handy Van Network staff have completed more than 80,000 tasks and made more than 26,000 visits across the county.

The tasks range from changing light bulbs and fixing taps to securing rugs, installing safety and security items like smoke alarms and moving furniture.

As well as carrying out tasks to keep older people safe in their own homes, Handy Van staff also can carry out `Safe and Well’ checks and can give advice and information about other services which can help and support them.

The Handy Van Network service will operate as normal while extra training is given to staff in the run up to launching the Telecare service.

Derbyshire County Council Cabinet Member for Adult Care Councillor Charles Jones said: “The Handy Van Network provides invaluable support for older and vulnerable people and the fact that it will soon be able to offer Telecare services is a very welcome boost to the service.

“Telecare equipment can help people stay living independently and safely in their own homes and can also give relatives or carers peace of mind that their loved one is safe.”

To contact the Handy Van Network people should ring the service that operates in their area.

Amber Valley & Erewash – Medequip – 01773 604426 Derbyshire Dales – Volunteer Centre, Buxton and District – 01298 23970 High Peak – Volunteer Centre, Buxton and District – 01298 23970 Bolsover, Chesterfield and North East Derbyshire – North Derbyshire Home Improvement Agency – 01246 345748 South Derbyshire – South Derbyshire CVS – 01283 219761.

The Handy Van Telecare Service will be officially launched in the autumn.