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Home Library Service Policy

The Home Library Service is provided to individuals who for a variety of reasons cannot use the conventional library service.

Background and context

The best value review of the library service has identified that the service is not currently reaching a large percentage of the number of older people who are unable to access the library service due to advanced age or disability. Given the demographic profile of the county, there is considerable scope for the library service to develop this aspect of the service as it is likely to face a significant increase in people who are housebound.

There are clear links to the corporate and service objectives of:

  1. Improving access for all sections of the community
  2. Improving health and well-being

These are underpinned by the values of fairness and equality, quality of service and community participation.

The Disability Discrimination Act makes it unlawful for a service provider to discriminate against a disabled person:

  1. By refusing to provide any service which it provides to members of the public
  2. In the standard of service which it provides to the disabled person or in the manner in which it provides it
  3. In the terms on which it provides a service to a disabled person

The library service to those who are housebound is delivered in three ways:

  1. Through the home (domiciliary) mobile library vehicle which visits establishments accommodating older people throughout the county. Users come onto the vehicle with the member of staff providing a service to those who are unable to leave their rooms.
  2. Through a delivery service by volunteers to individuals in their own homes (this may also include visiting individuals in establishments). This is operated from the network of libraries throughout the county.
  3. Through block loans to homes. A collection of books is delivered regularly to various homes throughout the county; this is provided by a centralised service and at a local level.

Aims and definition of service

The Home Library Service is provided to individuals who for a variety of reasons cannot use the conventional library service.

These individuals may be living in their own homes, or living in or attending a variety of establishments defined below:

  1. Residential or Nursing establishments. They can be private, Housing Association or statutory establishments provided by the local authority.
  2. Sheltered housing provided by either the local authority or a private Housing Association. The residents in such units have their own accommodation with a resident warden on site or in a control centre.
  3. Day Centres and other centres provided for people with special needs.
  4. Social clubs serving elderly people or people with special needs.

Criteria for the service

The Home Library Service for those who are housebound is offered to someone who is unable:

  1. To leave the home
  2. Travel to the library
  3. Gain easy access to the library e.g. due to poor facilities for users with a mobility problem
  4. Carry materials to or from the library

The Home Library Service serves those who experience a combination of the above criteria and may include:

  1. Those who are so elderly and frail or infirm that it prevents them using a conventional service point or other collection
  2. Those with physical difficulties
  3. Those with sensory disabilities especially severe visual impairment
  4. Those with profound or severe learning difficulties
  5. Those with certain mental health problems which make it difficult to leave the home
  6. Those suffering from long term illness
  7. Those who are culturally isolated in the home
  8. Carers who are unable to leave the home for any length of time

The need may be long term, seasonal (illness or disability worsened by bad weather conditions) or temporary (following a severe accident or recuperating from a serious illness).

The service is provided by volunteers and we are limited to the number of volunteers we have. The service is aimed at those with the greatest need; if there are family or friends who are able to collect books for a person, this will enable us to target other readers who are housebound and may not have this support.

Residents of sheltered housing:

The residents of these establishments are usually mobile and able to look after themselves and in theory should not need a home library service. However in practice many residents are unable to use conventional service points for the same reasons as individuals in their own homes. These should therefore be assessed as above.

In any sheltered housing complex if there are less than 4 residents wishing to use the library service but who are unable to get materials they should be treated as housebound individuals and the criteria as above for individuals in their homes will apply. This offers the best service to the housebound individual as they will receive a visit from a volunteer on a regular basis, delivering a selection of books, tailored to their personal choice.

If there are more than 4 residents who are eligible to use the service then it may be easier for the home to be served by the home library service mobile vehicle (subject to capacity on the timetable and safe access for the vehicle) or by block loan. However, if there are volunteers available to deliver to these individuals this would be a preferable means of delivery.

Residents in residential or nursing establishments, day centres and social clubs:

An establishment qualifies for a service if more than 4 residents in the establishment want to read but are unable to get to their nearest library. This includes Day Centres and Social clubs for the Elderly.

Staff in these establishments must not be included in this number. If there are more than 4 residents who are eligible for the service then it may be easier for the home to be served by the home library service mobile vehicle (subject to capacity on the timetable and safe access for the vehicle) or by block loan. However, if there are volunteers available to deliver to these individuals this would be a preferable means of delivery.

If there are less than 4 residents who wish to use the library service but are unable to get books, they should be treated as housebound individuals and assessed individually.

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