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Innovative UK Smart Grants
Streamlining disabled housing adaptation applications using digital solutions
The Adapt-ABLE project is funded by Innovate UK through the Smart Grants scheme.
The collaborative project aims to streamline the processes involved in the Government’s Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG). The team is developing a digital solution for the holistic management of all stages and processes involved.
Foundations is the national body for home improvement agencies (HIAs) in England. They are contracted by the Ministry of Housing Communities and local government to oversee a national network of nearly 200 HIAs and handyperson providers across the country.
Iizuka Software Technologies Limited – a privately owned software technology company based in Birmingham, UK.
Heriot-Watt University, Scotland, UK
- Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government
- Glossop, Derbyshire
We know that a significant proportion of the UK’s ageing and disabled population want to stay living in their own homes rather than living in care facilities. It boosts their community engagement, self-esteem, privacy and levels of activity – and is also a less costly option.
To help people to continue living in their homes, the Government has a statutory responsibility to provide financial assistance for their houses to be suitably adapted.
However, this process is currently very cumbersome and prone to delays. It can involve: referral, allocation, assessment, funding and installation – all of which involve various stakeholders with less streamlined processes. The time to complete the process ranges significantly – with some taking as long as four years.
Whilst there have been some improvements in the last decade, there is currently no integrated and interactive platform to allow speedy self-assessment and adaptation.
The Adapt-ABLE project uses techniques in machine learning (ML), advanced optimisation, decision support system (DSS) and cloud computing to create an innovative tool. The tool will streamline the whole process from self- / home-assessment through to installation and performance management.
To streamline the processes involved from application through to installation and management of the adapted homes, the Adapt-ABLE project involves the development of five integrated platforms:
Home-assessment / analytics platform
This allows users to evaluate how easy it is to live in their current home for an aged person and people living with various forms of disability. The platform will provide age and disability friendliness data – and suggest the changes required to support people as they age.
Adapt-ABLE platform for indicative assessment
An accessible online platform that allows self- or third-party referral. It is a one-stop shop with a self-assessment of requirements that consider and determine: eligibility thresholds, levels of adaptation, case risk bands and automated means tests – with an instant display of indicative assessment results. The system will also link applicants that are unlikely to qualify to sources of further help.
Adapt-ABLE procurement and tendering hermeneutics
This platform enables applicants or their representatives to upload supporting documents and contribute to the selection of contractors. The platform will standardise price scheduling and procurement, and payment issues will be standardised.
Machine learning-enabled predictive maintenance / repair
This platform enables housing providers to predict the adaptation needs of their housing stocks using machine-learning algorithms. The system also prevents the occurrence of failure by performing maintenance monitoring and notifications.
Smart performance management and analytics platform
This is an interactive platform to be used during the installation stage, site supervision and liaison with the customer. It includes a monitoring and tracking system, feedback platform, platform for dealing with complaints, and a portal for monitoring processes and the overall adaptation over time. It will also enable local authorities to benchmark their performance.
Our self-assessment portal, combining home-assessment and indicative assessment, is based on home needs requirements and grant-qualifying criteria. Through the portal, the users can:
- Evaluate their homes to get recommendations for their adaptation needs
- Assess whether they qualify for the Disabled Facility Grant (DFG)
- Get advice on alternative funding sources, if they are not likely to be qualified for the DFG
- Apply for DFG through their local authorities
With many applicants waiting for up to six months to find out whether they qualify for the DFG, and several months for their home assessment to be carried out in the traditional system, the Adapt-ABLE portal cuts the applicants’ journey (especially those that are not eligible for the DFG) from several months to about 10 minutes. View the beta version.
Due to the early engagement of stakeholders on the project, a report by the Centre for Social Justice Disability Commission – entitled Now Is The Time – recommends the use of the Adapt-ABLE website (Recommendation 20A).
Other parts of the Adapt-ABLE system, including the tendering units, adapted home register and smart performance management system, are currently under development.