GRANTS which help people in Oxford move back into their homes and prevent bed blocking will pay for double the amount of improvements during the coronavirus pandemic.

Oxford City Council’s Home Improvement Agency (HIA) has doubled the limit on its Safe and Secure grants to help more hospitalised patients to return safely to their homes.

The council said this will relieve pressure on NHS bed-space, staff and facilities during the coronavirus pandemic and prevent bed blocking.

The HIA helps older, disabled and vulnerable residents to live safely and independently in their homes.

The grants have risen to up to £2,000 per household and are non-means tested.

Up until now, any works costing more than £1,000 had been subject to means testing, which slowed down making improvements to homes.

The grants can help pay for new locks, assembling flat pack furniture, buying bedding, installing grab rails inside and outside, small ramps, non-slip mats and tacking trailing cables.

The HIA also fits keysafes on the outside of homes, which allow carers to enter properties.

If these are not in place some patients cannot be discharged from hospital.

A keysafe fitting costs £74, but it is estimated to save the NHS approximately seven bed days – worth around £2,532 – by enabling carers to gain easy access to discharged patients.

Mike Rowley, cabinet member for affordable housing, said: “During this time we all need to come together and offer support for the NHS – the Home Improvements Agency is able to support through providing a safe and suitable home for those returning from the hospital.”