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How the Council is making the borough’s homes more convenient for everyone

Date: 25 May 2023
Author: Rachel Wooden
Title: Specialist Housing Occupational Therapist

Our vision for Richmond Upon Thames is a community that provides residents safe, accessible spaces that allows every household room to grow and age.

My role as a Specialist Housing Occupational Therapist (OT) is to help deliver on this goal. People usually assume OTs to work in hospitals, prison or schools but by working in Richmond’s Housing Enablement team to collaborate with our partners, we can begin addressing the issues in housing and social care.

Working across new build developments, regeneration, allocation and policy improvement, my role ensures we have a dedicated resource that enables inclusive, adaptable and accessible housing to remain high on the agenda. This means we engage with our planners and housing associations to ensure new homes are designed and built as fit for purpose.

As the Housing Enablement Team works to deliver more affordable housing, the OT role supports in advising on inclusive design from the earliest stages to ensure all new homes are suitable for all our residents. This also helps to ensure wheelchair-user homes are built as fully accessible and meet the needs of the tenants. We also research the latest innovations in technology that can be employed in homes across the borough so that accessible housing is not limited to new builds, making life more convenient for everyone.

In addition to this, the Home Improvement Agency (HIA) provides a service that helps keep you independent and warm at home. To support residents who are having difficulty in and around their homes, the HIA have also employed a dedicated Specialist Housing OT. This role, funded through the Disability Facilities Grant (DFG), provides advice and support to the HIA team to ensure the service meets the needs of residents who require adaptable or accessible homes.

Our focus on inclusive design for all our new builds and home adaptations available through the DFG allows for you to live in your homes for longer, preventing upheaval and creating considerable savings. By providing our expertise, we can help reduce costs as well as ensuring we do not waste resources. Most importantly, the work being done provides valuable support to residents with complex disabilities and impairments as well as to our own colleagues across the Council.

We understand inclusive, adaptable and accessible homes help keep people active socially and economically, meaning residents can spend more time living their lives and with their community as well as reducing the pressure on public services. By collaborating with our partners, we can provide homes that meet the needs of residents – now and in the future.

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Updated: 25 May 2023