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A Firm Footing

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The DFG Children Summit is your chance to join other dedicated professionals to debate solutions to the key challenges currently affecting the assessment and delivery of the Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) for children and their families.

Foundations return to Birmingham this summer to host the DFG Children Summit for 2024 at the Birmingham Conference & Events Centre on Thursday 27th June.

It's becoming evident that the delivery of the DFG for children is becoming increasingly challenging in trying to meet the complexity of children's needs alongside the soaring costs of adaptations, and unless addressed, these issues are on track to become unsustainable.

Through lived-experience evidence, expert talks and facilitated workshops, you will have the opportunity to consider and learn:

  • How to better manage the different perspectives and expectations surrounding the Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) for Children
  • Gain a greater understanding of how to integrate funding sources to address the growing complexity and cost of adaptations for children
  • Use design methods and construction techniques to future-proof adaptations for children and their families
  • How to include cutting-edge technology and innovative solutions to enhance the delivery of DFG for children with complex needs

If you are a professional involved in the delivery of the DFG, then this is the event to attend to make a positive impact on your role, the sector, and the disabled children we aim to meet the needs of.

The DFG Assessment Summit in 2023 proved to be a resounding success. The energy was infectious, as attendees recognised the pioneering pursuit of the day through cross-sector collaboration.

Since then, Foundations have been developing sector-informed assessment frameworks and continuing discussions on governance and support with stakeholder organisations.

"The Disabled Facilities Grant is there to provide adaptations to make the home more accessible and usable for children," said Paul Smith, Foundations' Director. "However, the delivery of these adaptations is becoming increasingly challenging due stretched capacity in social care, the rising cost of building materials, and the increasing complexity of children's needs. There are also challenges in helping parents understand what the grant can offer and its limitations.

"More and more, adaptation teams are finding that the mandatory grant may not always cover the total cost of the scheme, raising questions about who is responsible for funding the shortfall.

"We want to bring together occupational therapists, technical officers, caseworkers, managers, commissioners, and third-sector organisations to debate these issues and help us to identify solutions to these real-world problems. From what we hear on the day, Foundations will then look at how we work with our partners and other stakeholders to see how we address these concerns in our role as the national advisory body for the Disabled Facilities Grant."

What to expect...

After Registration and some informal networking, the day will begin with an introduction from Dr Rachel Russell, Senior Regional Advisor at Foundations, running through the format of the day, introducing the sessions and evidences why we must focus on the Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) and children.

"Being the first presentation of the day, it is about setting the scene and stage for the day," explained Rachel. "As the Senior Regional Advisor at Foundations, I'll be talking about how we've listened to the sector and any problems they've faced with the delivery of the Disabled Facilities Grant for children. I'll also discuss how we've planned a summit where those attending can discuss the issues and to give them the space to think about things could be different."

Rachel will be followed by Steve Ford, the Chief Executive of the Royal College of Occupational Therapists (RCOT), giving the Keynote Address. With his proven track record of strategic leadership and transformative impact within the NHS and the charity sector, Steve is the ideal professional to shed light on the primary challenges facing the delivery of Disabled Facilities Grants (DFG) for children with complex needs.

"2024 is an important year for RCOT," he told us. "In March we published our first ever occupational therapy workforce strategy, and housing and children's services are both priority areas of focus within it. We're also marking five years since the publication of Adaptations without delay, which supports adaptations teams to make the best use of their multi-disciplinary workforce.

"Occupational therapists know the vital role that the home plays for the health and wellbeing of disabled children and their families, and I'm delighted to have been invited to speak at the summit. I'm looking forward to sharing our work and hearing about the innovative ways that services are enhancing the provision of adaptations for children, young people and families."

Next to engage the delegates will be Luke Clement, the Cerebra (Charity) Professor of Law and Social Justice at the School of Law, University of Leeds, who has dedicated his life to fighting for the rights of disabled individuals and their carers, sharing his decades of experience shaping legislation and improving the lives of those experiencing social exclusion.

Later in the afternoon Kate Sheehan will be presenting Innovation and Product Design, exploring collaboration between commercial, Occupational Therapists and end user, and asking where are the gaps in adaptation products for the paediatrics market?

A very full day will then concluded with the closing Keynote Address from Frances Heywood OBE.

The event's main sponsor is AKW Medi-Care, with other exhibitors including PROCare Shower & Bathroom Centre, Abacus Specialist Bathroom Solutions, Handicare Stairlifts UK, Altro Limited, Safespaces, Triton Showers, Stiltz Lifts, Geberit, Terry Lifts, Closomat, Stannah Group, and CareSpaces (by Wealden Rehab).

Further information on all the confirmed speakers and agenda can be found here.

Several breakout sessions throughout the day will be covering topics such as:

Expectations: Adam Ferry and Lucy Leonard explore with participants how we better manage the different perspectives and expectations surrounding the Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) for children.

Funding: Paul Smith discusses how we better integrate funding sources to address the growing complexity and cost of adaptations for children.

Future-Proofing: Rachel Frondigoun and Claire Miller ask how we can better use design methods and construction techniques to future-proof adaptations provided by the DFG for children and their families.
"The purpose of the workshop I am facilitating with Claire Miller is to explore how we can better future proof adaptations provided by the DFG for children and their families whilst still ensuring good use of the DFG," explained Rachel Frondigoun, Director, Cherrywhite Consultancy Services Ltd. "It hopes to explore how we support children in their home environment in the most cost effective way, and explore the barriers and challenges to this and what can we, as professionals, do to overcome these. Exploring joint working, shared funding and hopefully learning about best practice from across England.
"On a personal level I'm looking forward to learning from fellow professionals working with children with complex needs to understand how different organisation are working to meet these needs in the most effective work and identify examples of best practice that can be shared to support services that are perhaps struggling with this area."

Innovation: Alan Mathews and Ruth Parker consider how to better include cutting-edge technology and innovative solutions to enhance the delivery of Disabled Facilities Grants (DFG) for children with complex needs.

...and now for a word from some of the event's sponsors...

Stuart Reynolds, UK Marketing & Product Management Director, AKW .
"We are very happy to be part of Foundations' DFG Children Summit this year, and to be part of the conversation around creating future-proof adaptations for children and their families. We have built our business on using good design to make lives better for those with disability needs and we are proud to be involved in the discussion surrounding the DFG for children.
"We'll be showcasing some of our accessible bathroom products at the summit, including our Rise & Fall adjustable height WC, wet rooms and showers."

Dale Campbell, Projects Director, CareSpaces .
"The upcoming DFG Children Summit presents a fantastic opportunity for us to connect with the community – we're eager to learn from fellow exhibitors and visitors alike.We'll be showcasing our wide range of products and services,including the innovative GoLift ceiling hoist,AquaLine care bath, RAZ shower chairs and much more, whilst also highlighting our expertise in creating truly accessible spaces.
"At CareSpaces, the projects division of Wealden Rehab, we understand the importance of accessible spaces that empower individuals with mobility limitations. That's why we offer a comprehensive suite of solutions that can all seamlessly integrate to create the perfect environment for any individual.
"Our team of seasoned experts boasts a wealth of experience in designing these environments. They've seen it all, from kitchen makeovers to bathroom upgrades – they'll work with a variety of clients to design a space that promotes independence and well-being; they listen to your needs, big or small, to craft personalised solutions and turn your vision for an accessible care environment into a reality. We believe everyone deserves the freedom and independence a well-designed space can provide."

Ryan Wilkes, National Sales Manager, Abacus Specialist Bathroom Solutions :
"Our Product Assessment Managers are looking forward to all aspects of the Foundations' DFG Children Summit. As we are dedicated to providing specialist accessible baths to children with disabilities, it is essential that DFG provision is strengthened across the UK; on a daily basis our team witnesses the challenges faced by families seeking funding for assistive equipment.
"We all have a duty of care to ensure children can bathe safely at home so life can be enhanced through hygiene, therapy and peace of mind. This is why we believe attending the Summit is essential so all professionals and stakeholders can get together to drive DFG innovation and hence more positive outcomes can be achieved.
Our stand will be a hub of information regarding accessible bathing solutions. We will be able to provide guidance on all aspects from clinical assessment, provision and installation through to current legislation and safety standards. Client case studies will demonstrate real world results achieved by Abacus and if delegates are seeking CPD, visits from our educational vehicles will be available to book free of charge.
"Highlights from this training will be included in the various workshops and seminars available at the Summit – 100% focused on safe, future proofed bathing for children with disabilities."

Gino Farruggio, Trade Sales Director, Stiltz Homelifts .
"Our specialist homelift team is committed to delivering DFG-funded accessibility to more children with disabilities. Driving change within practice and policy is key to achieving this so we believe exhibiting at the Foundations' DFG Children Summit is critical. Critical for us to share our knowledge and insight with healthcare and housing practitioners so homelift provision is efficient, appropriate and above all future-proofed. We look forward to demonstrating our assessment-centred approach to removing the barrier of stairs through material such as evidence-based case studies and legislative guides.
"As a long-standing supporter of Foundations, our CPD prowess will once again be on show as Stiltz offers workshops and seminars dedicated to enhancing everyday practice. This educational content will be leveraged from our popular 'Lunch n Learn' group sessions which are free to book at our demonstration showrooms. Homelift prescription from a clinical and practical point of view, will be explored as together we all strive to ensure children with complex needs can thrive in the home environment."

This article first appeared in our May/June issue. You can download a pdf at the link below the images on this page.

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