vernon J Yarker


The fanciful trace the origins of sheltered housing back to Athelstan, in the late, AD, nine hundreds.

Latter day thinking, however, attributes it to a derivative of the Alms-houses, and it became more fully developed in the 1960s to 1970s . It was thought that sheltered housing with its warden and tailored to age activities in a communal lounge would entice the elderly from their larger than needs houses to take up residence in sheltered housing. Effectively they vacated enough family size homes to house a city almost the size of Birmingham. Good for the elderly, good for the State !

Through adroit sleight of hand the labour government (a policy continued by the Conservative government) shifted the responsibility for paying for services (mainly the wardens) for sheltered housing from out of the Housing Benefit, and in the year c. 2003 relocated it in county Supporting People services, initially they funded it fully but over the years that tailed off.

The councils responded by drastically reducing the money they paid to housing providers of sheltered housing for services. The providers, now unable to make a decent buck, reduced or withdrew warden services altogether but often amalgamated wardens with other sheltered complexes, often many miles apart.

That is not all,. sheltered housing became the poor return on capital item on the books of housing providers and they have set about dismantling it . Much of it has also changed use to include other categories of tenant. Worse still hundreds, perhaps thousands of sheltered complexes, nationally, have been bulldozed flat for their ground value.

Meantime we are told how the elderly, mainly, are hanging onto social homes which have more than one bedroom, and they are being punished financially for it . Although one cannot envisage why an elderly couple would wish to have just one bedroom. With age comes medical problems painful arthritis, heart disease, incontinence, water works problems, depression and insomnia. The last thing they wish is to be crammed into a 4’6” bed with each other’s sleeplessness and effluents but, of course, those who make these decisions are not yet affected by the reality of them.

We hear of bed blockers too, again mainly the elderly. Yet, we at the Sheltered Housing UK Association (SHUK) found time and time again, that a good warden could actually delay people going into care and one that welcomed residents back from hospital and gave them special attention whilst they recovered could mean their discharge earlier from hospital. There was every indication that the task of a warden in sheltered housing ought really to be beefed up to extend their role.

At the Sheltered Housing UK association we carried out a national survey of the reason why people moved into sheltered housing, 97% said it was because it had a warden. But, that is in the past, most no longer have a warden more often than not it is a tick box operation.

There are considerably less sheltered homes now with, or without a warden, there is simply no logical downsize alternative which offers an incentive for the elderly to move.

So as sheltered housing shrinks, Retirement Housing, which is the private sector equivalent, has continued to expand apace with more private complexes going up all over the country . Yet, the needs of the people in the private sector, in old age, are not different from those in the social sector.

As so often occurs with government departments, it’s not joined up thinking and with respect to the care of the elderly a backward step which is serving no national purpose


Vernon J Yarker
Founder and former chairman of
The Sheltered Housing UK Association (SHUK)
Flat 12
Berridge House
Mill Road
Maldon CM9 5JX (Tel 01621 840743)

Dear Andrew

Sorry to add something, but while I have your attention. When the government set about selling off social housing they sweetened the pill for prospective organisations buying them.. Typically this was the legal right to add to the rents the cost of inflation, plus half of a percent, plus two pounds per week. Speaking for all social housing general. It is the repository for many unemployed , or benefit dependent people, perhaps over 50% in some places, and the housing providers were feather bedded with this throughout the recession and are still in receipt of these enforced hikes . No other sector, except perhaps the NHS, was forced to live with the realities of the public debt burden. All in all, if you compound that up from 2003 you will see that it has cost the country (PSBR) billions and is set to grow ever more .

Although that will not affect anybody reliant upon benefits, for the pensioner who have additional pensions, then the cost is great. Just look at my own example . In two years my monthly rent/service charges has increased by £100 per month, ( started at £498, it is set to go to £601) £50 of that this coming April. Compounded then next year, I anticipate it will be £55 to £60 per month. I get pretty good pensions, but they do not increase by £50 per year, it is more like half of that . Other pensioners will be in the same boat (but please note that for sheltered housing they will be higher, as is mine, because of service charges). What a pensioner gets becomes fairly static over the age of 65, and increases of this magnitude are unsustainable .

So what am I suggesting. In effect, when they privatised council houses, OAP accommodation , including sheltered housing, was lumped together with general needs housing and is governed by rises applicable to general needs housing. No thought was given when they handed out largesse to housing providers , that there were imbalances and one size did not fit all situations. I am making the point that in a very short time now, there are going to be some very poor OAPs in social housing. What started in 2003 is now beginning to bite hard. It seems that the government have a choice, to either abate the £2 per week automatic over the top increases in rents, or more and more pensioners who also have private pensions, will appear as new claimants for Housing Benefit .

I have taken the liberty of including Age UK here, as I did work with them in the past on at least three of their committees



crime & issues in sheltered housing

shortage of  elderly homes








17 September 2014
Man dies after being found in Aberdeen sheltered house
Police at the scene of the incident in PeterculterPolice at the scene of the incident in Peterculter
By Ashleigh Barbour


Aberdeen Royal Infirmary
Coronation Road
Police Scotland
The death of a man following a disturbance at a sheltered housing complex in Aberdeen is being investigated by police.

Officers and paramedics were called to Coronation Road at Peterculter on Monday night, where they discovered the body of a man in his 20s.

Yesterday, police confirmed he had been taken to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, but later died in hospital.

It is understood the sheltered house where he was discovered belongs to a pensioner – named locally as John Stott – who is in his 60s.

Neighbours said Mr Stott was also taken away by ambulance on Monday after police arrived on scene around 10pm.

However, police were last night unable to confirm if the two incidents were linked or how the younger man died.

A police spokeswoman said an investigation was under-way to piece together what happened.

“We were alerted after concern was raised for a man in the Coronation Road area of Peterculter at 9.56pm,” she said.

“The man was taken to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary where he later died.

“An investigation is ongoing to establish the circumstances.”

At Coronation Road yesterday, forensic investigators dressed in white searched the property for several hours, emptying the sheltered house of items and scouring the area.

The blinds remained closed throughout, while three police vans and an unmarked police car were stationed outside.

Two police officers stood guard at front gate while the team worked inside.

Stunned neighbours said they had heard a “disturbance” on Monday night, but that they thought nothing of it as Mr Stott often had visitors round to his house.

It was not until they saw investigators at the property yesterday morning that they realised something had happened.

“Mr Stott used crutches and he recently had to give his mobility car away – so there are always people coming and going, bringing him things,” one resident said.

“The noise didn’t come as a huge surprise – it happens most nights, but it’s usually harmless.

“Whatever has happened, it’s a terrible shame. It’s not often something like this happens on your doorstep.”

Drug user who terrorised sheltered housing tenants jailed

Published by Max Salsbury for in Housing and also in Communities, Legal

Thursday 18th September 2014 – 3:16pm
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Government to ‘help halt court actions’ on home repossessions Government to ‘help halt court actions’ on home repossessions
A drug user has been sent to prison for terrorising the residents of a Somerset sheltered housing scheme.

Social landlord Yarlington Housing Group took out an injunction order against Kimberley Spencer in December 2013 after she begin frequenting properties at the landlord’s sheltered housing scheme in Yeovil

The 29-year-old’s behaviour included repeated knocking on the doors of vulnerable tenants and asking for money and other items to fund her drug habit.

When refused, she would scream cry and shout causing great distress to the residents.

The injunction order had to be varied to extend the whole area as Spencer soon turned her attentions to another address.

After multiple breaches of the injunction, Yarlington returned to court to ask that Spencer, of no fixed abode, be sent to prison.

At a hearing, Spencer admitted to the majority of the breaches and the case was adjourned for a psychiatric report. During this adjournment period, Spencer returned to Monmouth Road and began hammering on one of the doors, screaming to be let in and threatening to kill the occupant before urinating in the garden.

On 10 September at a hearing at the Yeovil Magistrates’ Court, Spencer admitted to the further breaches of the injunction, blaming heavy drug use for her behaviour. She was sentenced to a six-month immediate custodial sentence.

Rachel Napper, of Yarlington’s Community Safety Team, said that even though Spencer was not a Yarlington tenant, action was still taken against her to stop her from terrorising our vulnerable residents.

She added: “I am very pleased with the sentence passed and I hope it sends a strong message that we will take a zero tolerance approach to this type of behaviour.

“This would not have been achievable if it had not been for the fantastic support from the Police who assisted throughout and members of the community and Yarlington staff who provided statements.”


Vulnerable elderly across Derbyshire fear warden cuts
Residents at Glebe Court protest against planned council cuts to sheltered accommodation alarm systems and wardens. Fronted by Shirley Stewart.
Residents at Glebe Court protest against planned council cuts to sheltered accommodation alarm systems and wardens. Fronted by Shirley Stewart.
Published on the
25 September

Elderly and disabled residents in sheltered housing fear their lives could be put in danger if council plans to axe their wardens go ahead.

Derbyshire County Council has announced plans to get rid of wardens and stop funding an alarm system at countywide sheltered accommodations overseen by district and borough councils and housing associations.

A total of 1,139 pensioners receive a warden service now.

Glebe Court residents at Old Whittington, Chesterfield, and Markham Court residents, at Duckmanton, have started petitions in a battle to keep their wardens.

Shirley Stewart, 62, of Glebe Court, said: “Wardens and alarms can be the difference between life and death and if anyone falls or gets stuck they could be left to die.

“Only six weeks ago one lady fell and crashed into a mirror and she was found by the warden with glass in her stomach.

“The warden managed to get to her, cleaned her up and made sure she got to hospital.

“The elderly are one of the most vulnerable so I can’t understand why they are being targeted with cuts.”

Mrs Stewart and residents received letters from the council claiming the authority has to make savings of £157million by 2018 and its website explained stopping funding for wardens and alarms by Spring 2015 could save an estimated £788,395 every year.

As part of the plans, the council stated it may be possible to introduce an alternative community alarm funded by the council for those receiving housing benefits.

Former care home manager Mrs Stewart added: “If they think they can save money by taking wardens away it is not right because residents will have to go into care and nursing homes and that will need funding.”

Mrs Stewart, who has renal difficulties and arthritis, argued wardens provide security against cold-callers and serve as a deterrent to thieves and burglars.

Rose Elmore, 67, of Markham Court, and Mrs Stewart both told how their wardens provide personal, friendly support, monitor residents’ health, and organise social events and trips.

Ms Elmore, who is recovering from a tumour which was wrapped around her spine, said: “We’re worried we will really struggle without a warden and we’re worried about what would happen if someone gets very poorly and is left alone. Our warden is worth fighting for.”

She has 279 names on her petition and Mrs Stewart has over 100 names and they will be submitting objections to the council as part of the authority’s consultation which finishes on November 18.

Councillor Clare Neill, adult social care chief, said: “We are working hard to protect services where we can and trying to find ways to mitigate against some of the cuts where possible, including using council reserves.

“However, the size and scale of the cuts we are facing means we have no choice but to reduce or cut funding in some areas.

“We understand people will feel anxious about the cuts we are being forced to propose to warden services. No decisions have yet been made on this and there is still plenty of time for people to take part in the consultation and make sure their views are heard.

“We welcome petitions and when we receive them they will be considered as part of the consultation and decision-making process.”

Those with concerns are urged to visit A further report will be prepared and considered by the council’s cabinet in February 2015.


Sheltered housing concerns are voiced
07:00, 26 September 2014 By Matt Jarram
The funding for the warden service, which is also available at other sheltered accommodation sites across Charnwood, will cease in 2015.

Keeping warm this winterKeeping warm this winter
ELDERLY residents’ well-being in sheltered accommodation will be seriously affected if the county council withdraws its funding for wardens, a local councillor has warned.

Coun Claire Poole has sent a petition with 31 elderly residents’ names to Leicestershire County Council and Charnwood Borough Council calling for the two authorities to consider the consequences of removing the warden service from Beresford Court in The Lant.

The funding for the warden service, which is also available at other sheltered accommodation sites across Charnwood, will cease in 2015.

The county council funds the service and the borough appoints the wardens.

Coun Poole said the wardens provide daily visits to each resident to check on their health and well-being, highlights any sign of abuse or neglect and provides extra support for residents with learning difficulties.

She told the Echo: “This will not only affect the well-being of the residents, which of course is paramount, but inevitably affect our stretched social service departments and the NHS, not to mention the additional costs this will involve on local budgets.”

A spokesman for Leicestershire County Council said: “We are facing major financial challenges and the funding for the mobile warden service in Charnwood, including Beresford Court, will cease in September 2015 as part of budget reductions for housing-related support services.

“However, during our recent consultation, around half of the providers indicated they will continue to support existing clients and others are known to be exploring alternative funding options.

“There will be an investment of £240,000 to support a partnership scheme known as the Lightbulb Project which will involve all borough and district councils and identifies older people who need support in enhancing their independence.”

Sheltered housing complex death: 73-year-old charged with murdering 76-year-old

By South Wales Evening Post | Posted: October 09, 2014

The Fairoaks sheltered housing complex where the 76-year-old was found injured.
The Fairoaks sheltered housing complex where the 76-year-old was found injured.
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POLICE have charged a 73-year-old with murder following the death of another pensioner from a sheltered housing complex in the Vale of Glamorgan.

A 76-year-old was found at Fairoaks sheltered housing complex in Dinas Powys yesterday morning.
He had suffered serious injuries and later died at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff.

South Wales Police Det Ch Insp Ceri Hughes sat out to reassure the community following what was described as an ‘isolated’ incident.

“However, we do appreciate that it no doubt caused concern for residents in the Fairoaks area.

“We have officers supporting the family of the gentleman who died at what is clearly a very distressing time for them”.

Police have said they are not looking for anyone else in connection with the death.

Officers have sealed off part of the Fairoaks complex in the village.

A villager who lives nearby said: “Everyone is in a state of shock. It’s not what you expect on an estate full of old folk.”

Staff and some of the residents have given police statements and some of the elderly have been moved temporarily while the police investigation is carried out.

Mark Hobrough, who was this week appointed Chief inspector of Operations for Barry, Penarth and the Vale of Glamorgan said: “This is a very tragic incident.

“The dead man’s family are devastated and have made a request that their privacy is respected.

“This was an isolated incident and I want to reassure the community in Dinas Powys that this is not a random attack and they have no reason to be concerned.”

The Vale of Glamorgan council, who run the complex, said they could not comment because of the police investigation.

Fairoaks was built in 1971 and has 100 flats, both one and two bedrooms. It has a resident manager and each of the flats is fitted with an alarm for residents to alert staff.

A Welsh Ambulance Service spokesperson said: “We were called at 9.35am on Wednesday to an incident at an address in Dinas Powys.

“We responded with a paramedic in a rapid response vehicle and crews in two emergency ambulances, and a man with life-threatening injuries was taken to the University Hospital of Wales.”

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ouncil left us in the dark during 15-hour power cut’

Back row from left, Reg Gordge, John Gomm, Roy Ford and Dave Draper. Front row from left, Anne Gomm, Irene Kilpin, Ivy Gray, Mary Nichols and Les Godwin. Picture: OX70624 Ed Nix
Back row from left, Reg Gordge, John Gomm, Roy Ford and Dave Draper. Front row from left, Anne Gomm, Irene Kilpin, Ivy Gray, Mary Nichols and Les Godwin. Picture: OX70624 Ed Nix Buy this photo
First published Friday 17 October 2014 in Oxford
The Oxford Times: Photograph of the Author by Luke Sproule, Reporter covering Rose Hill, Iffley and Littlemore. Please call me on (01865) 425422
ELDERLY residents in sheltered housing who were left without power for 15 hours, claim the city council did not help them.

The pensioners live in Atkyns Court, Wood Farm, and were hit by a power cut on Tuesday.

One resident had to spend the night in his wheelchair because he was unable to get into bed due to his electric winch not working following the outage, which lasted from about 3pm on Tuesday until 6am the next day.

Sixty-seven-year-old Les Godwin, who has lived at Atkyns Court for two years, said the 23 residents of the block were upset by the lack of help from Oxford City Council, which manages the flats.

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He said: “We have had no support from the council.

“Since the lights went out yesterday afternoon we have not had a single person from the council say sorry for the inconvenience or to see how we are.

“The safety lights went off as well and from sunset it was all in total darkness.”

Mr Godwin said the power cut posed a danger to those with mobility issues.

He added: “It is very awkward with a walking stick or a walker to get around and it is even worse in the dark.
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“Anyone of us could have had a fall and nobody would have known.

“A lot of residents here are very frail and it was not safe for anybody when it was dark with no lights.

“Phillip Baker (a fellow resident) was stuck in his wheelchair last night because he had no way of working his electric winch to lift him into his bed.”

Residents said they were happy with the work of Southern Electric (SSE), which worked to restore their power supply, but felt let down by the council.

Seventy-five-year-old David Draper, who has lived in Atkyns Court for 20 years, said: “Our biggest gripe is that nobody from the council came around to see how we were.

“I have type one diabetes and a pacemaker and we expect some support from our local council.

“The way the council has treated us has been abominable.”

Oxford City Council spokesman Chofamba Sithole said the council’s caretaker checked on residents at 4pm but had been told by SSE the power would be restored within “a reasonable time frame”.

He added: “We are concerned that council tenants and other residents across Wood Farm experienced a great deal of inconvenience as a result of the power outage.

“Unfortunately SSE did not provide an updates to the city council to indicate that work to restore power was taking longer than expected.

“We thought that when we attended to the issue that was it, and having received no further complaints, we were none the wiser to what the situation was.

“It was only the next morning that we knew power had been restored.

“We perhaps should have checked more with SSE to see how repairs were going.

“We intend to discuss with SSE how future incidents can be managed better.”

Southern Electric was unavailable for comment.



by Haringey Lib Dems on October 17, 2014
(Pictured: Cllr Pippa Connor outside The Priory in Hornsey)
(Pictured: Cllr Pippa Connor outside The Priory in Hornsey)

Vulnerable residents of a sheltered housing block in Hornsey were left with a door that would not lock for 6 weeks.

The residents of one block in The Priory housing scheme were not able to close an external door, which should have been secure, after the lock broke in August. Local residents of the block were particularly concerned about their building not being secure following recent burglaries.

Lib Dem Councillor Pippa Connor highlighted the issue during a visit to the building on the 12th August. Homes for Haringey contractors inspected the door but said they could not complete the works until the 17th September as they did not have the right parts to repair the door. The door was eventually fixed on the 26th September.

The Lib Dems are calling on the Labour council’s housing arm, Homes for Haringey to ensure it does not happen again.

Cllr Pippa Connor, local Lib Dem councillor, comments:

I am flabbergasted that vulnerable residents of this sheltered housing scheme were left living in an unsecured building for more than a month.

The Labour-run council and Homes for Haringey should have made repairing this door a priority. It is not right that it took so long to do such a straight forward repair.


Care concerns at Falmouth sheltered housing as support officers cut

Care concerns at Falmouth sheltered housing as support officers cut
Care concerns at Falmouth sheltered housing as support officers cut
First published Monday 20 October 2014 in News
Residents of a sheltered housing complex in Falmouth have voiced concerns over the withdrawal of independent living support officers who had provided a link to the outside world.

The officers’ role is currently under review by Cornwall Housing, which runs Chynampara, after becoming one of the victims in Cornwall Council’s latest round of budget cuts.

One resident of the 34 apartment complex in Trevethan Road, who didn’t want to be named, said: “Some of the elderly people here would get a call in the morning to make sure they were all right, but now if they want a call it’s going to cost them £3.80 a week.

“If someone did not answer the call, then the independent living advisors would know there was something wrong and could raise the alarm. They would also make sure everything was clean and tidy and for some residents it was the only contact they had with someone all day.”

A spokesman for Cornwall Council said: “The contract with Cornwall Housing to deliver preventative services that provide support to older and vulnerable people to help them remain independent at home, was one of a number of contracts terminated by the council earlier this year.

“The council recognises that the decision to terminate these contracts has caused concern to those who currently benefit from these services.

“The council did not have any concerns about the quality of the service which was being delivered, however it felt that the contracts had not delivered the outcomes which they had anticipated.”

Jane Barlow, managing director of Cornwall Housing, added: “There have not been resident wardens at our sheltered housing schemes for several years as our contract with the council did not provide for this approach.
“What we did have were independent living support officers, available for a few hours a week during regular office hours, who supported some residents and people with support needs in the wider community.

“As a result of this funding cut, we are currently undertaking a fundamental review of our sheltered housing complexes and their communal facilities, which are impacted by the termination of the contract.

“The review has started and will be ongoing over the next few months. We hope that some staff presence will be maintained at our sheltered housing schemes at least until the end of the review, but this will be severely reduced compared to the current arrangements.”

It has been stressed that the cuts will not affect Lifeline customers who currently pay for their service.


Thief targeted sheltered housing residents in Inverness
A thief who stole from residents of a sheltered housing complex in Inverness has been jailed for 20 months at the city’s sheriff court.

Alistair Reid, 33, of Inverness, had earlier admitted three charges.

He plead guilty to forcing his way into the home of a 91 year old at 01:00 on 11 September with the intent to steal.

Later the same day, he broke into a 60 year old man’s home and took jewellery, money and a mobile phone before stealing bank cards from a 68 year old.

Reid was found by police in the last property he broke into after his second victim that morning had raised the alarm.

The break ins took place at Falconer Court.

Inverness Sheriff Court heard that substance abuse and a mental disorder were factors behind Reid’s behaviour.

Jailing him, Sheriff Jamie Gilchrist QC told Reid: “These were serious offences, targeting vulnerable individuals for financial gain”.

Following the sentencing, Andrew McIntyre, procurator fiscal for sheriff and jury cases in the north of Scotland, said Reid had shown “disregard for the devastating effect” his crimes had on his victims.

Labour plan to slash Sheltered Housing Warden Services
Posted on November 10, 2014 by snpadmin11
“This move by Labour will see a cut of around 13.5% on the service provided by sheltered housing officers to some of the most vulnerable residents in Renfrewshire,” said Councillor Mags MacLaren (SNP – Paisley North West).

The Labour administration in Renfrewshire Council is planning to cut the number of hours provided by Sheltered Housing Officers from 352 hours per week to 305 hours (a cut of around 13.5%). This decision will be made by the Housing and Community Safety Policy Board on Tuesday 11th November, where Labour have a majority of the councillors on the board.

Councillor Mags MacLaren added:

“This is not a good move for residents of the council’s sheltered housing properties.

“This is an unwanted budget cut by Labour who seem to think bringing in a part time ‘activities officer’ to arrange bingo sessions and the like will replace the experience, care and support offered by Sheltered Housing Officers.

h East News Jarrow
Jarrow pensioner writes to Ed Miliband over shortage of sheltered housing wardens
16:53, 21 November 2014 By Kate Proctor
Pensioner with Jarrow march connections takes Ed Miliband to task over housing warden

John Badger of Jarrow whose father John made the banner for the original 1936 Jarrow Cusade.John Badger of Jarrow whose father John made the banner for the original 1936 Jarrow Cusade.
A pensioner has hit out at Labour leader Ed Miliband after feeling fobbed-off over his housing fears for the elderly.

John Badger, whose father designed the crusade banners used in the 1936 Jarrow march, said he feels let down by the Government and his local MP Stephen Hepburn over the issue.

Since changes to European law were introduced in 2009 the roles of sheltered housing wardens has changed and in South Tyneside there has since been a reduction in the number of posts.

Mr Badger raised his concerns over a national shortage with the Labour leader in a bid for it to be debated in the Houses of Parliament.

However Mr Badger, who himself took part in the anniversary Jarrow March in 1986 and addressed the rally in London’s Trafalgar Square, was dismayed when he was sent someone else’s mail from the leader’s office.

While he got a response back from Mr Miliband’s team telling him to contact Jarrow MP Stephen Hepburn over the issue, he was also sent a letter addressed to a woman based in the Isle of Wight sending his condolence on the death of her husband.

He said: “What kind of ship is Mr Miliband running? How can they confuse me with someone who lives in the Isle of Wight? What kind of ineptitude is that?”

He was further insulted when he was told to contact Mr Hepburn, when it clearly showed in his letter that he already had done so.

A spokesperson for Ed Miliband said posting out a letter addressed to someone else was ‘unfortunate’ and it is Parliamentary protocol for a member of the public with a concern to be directed to their MP in the first instance.

Picture of a commemorative Jarrow march in 1986 which John badger was on.Picture of a commemorative Jarrow march in 1986 which John badger was on.
Mr Badger, who lives at Curran House Mews in Jarrow, and whose uncle Alfie took part in the first Jarrow march, said: “I suggested to Mr Miliband and Mr Hepburn as they are in opposition that they have a golden opportunity to raise an issue about care of the elderly.

“You can’t argue against the logic of taking away 24/7 wardens but the Government hasn’t put something else in its place. There is a national shortage.

“There are security issues, there are health and safety issues too.”

Mr Hepburn said he is working with Mr Badger to highlight the issue about a national shortage.

He said: “I have written to Ed Miliband as I think Mr Badger makes a good point and this is something that we should take up. When I get a response from Mr Miliband, Mr Badger will also get a reply.”

Brian Scott, director of finance and support services at South Tyneside Homes, said: “We have previously explained to Mr Badger that we have not provided a 24-hour on site warden service since 2006, when the residential requirement of the post was removed.

“This was due to a European Working Time Directive, employment conditions and cost ramifications.

“We do however operate a comprehensive service where Housing Plus Officers cover all our schemes from 8am to 4pm. If a Housing Plus Officer is not on site they can be contacted via the Telecare and Community Alarm Service which operates on a 24/7 basis.

“Mr Badger was fully aware of the warden provision when he accepted his tenancy last year.”



‘Freezing’ elderly women accuse Circle Housing Merton Priory of poor care after Christmas heating failure

‘Freezing’: Irene Latham in sheltered housing accommodation
‘Freezing’: Irene Latham in sheltered housing accommodation
First published Wednesday 14 January 2015 in News
Wimbledon Guardian: Photograph of the Author by Louisa Clarence-Smith, Reporter – Wimbledon
Elderly women were found “freezing” in their sheltered housing over Christmas after their heating broke down.

Olive Thackeray, 74, who suffers from dementia, was discovered shivering on her sofa by a friend visiting her Morden flat on Christmas Day.

Ms Thackeray, of Yenston Close near St Helier station, said: “It’s awful to get up in the cold. I put a coat on or go out with something underneath the coat, but I don’t have anywhere to go.”

Her neighbour Irene Latham, 73, said she was so cold she called the police after housing association Circle Housing Merton Priory (CHMP) failed to respond to her complaints.

She said: “It’s been freezing for more than a week. Circle Housing doesn’t care. I don’t have a family to go to.”

Mark Anderson, director of property services at CHMP, said three reports of heating failure were received last week and are being responded to this week.

Mr Anderson said affected residents have been given access to temporary heaters and the cost of powering them will be reimbursed.

Ms Thackeray’s friend, a private landlord who did not want to be named, said he first contacted CHMP at the end of December but was told to report to contractors Smith & Byford.

But he said Smith & Byford passed the responsibility back to CHMP.

He said: “As a private landlord myself I would never be able to get away with this. Circle Housing has a warden but they don’t care.”

More on this story: Boss of Circle Housing Merton claims ‘shocking’ repairs in Merton are ‘teething problems’

MP Stephen Hammond accuses housing association of delaying publication of fraud investigation


Tenants left worried after council axes support grants for sheltered housing schemes

Faithfield Sheltered Housing in Watford
Faithfield Sheltered Housing in Watford

Worried tenants fear they could be “stretched to the limit” by increased fees after a council scrapped support grants for sheltered housing schemes.

Hertfordshire County Council has axed its Supporting People Grant which aids 24 housing providers around the county with its services.

All of those contracts will expire on March 31 and will be replaced by a countywide community alarm service, to be run by North Herts District Council, which will be available to elderly people with a standard weekly charge for all new service users from April 1. The authority is also setting aside a £100,000 budget for housing-related support and for the conversion of qualifying sheltered housing schemes to Flexicare Housing.

But many scheme managers are worried about the impact this may have on residents – who may need to pay more money every week to cover the cost of services, which would have been subsidised by the grant – and have written letters of complaint to councillors and MPs.

Joe Monaghan, a tenant rep at Faithfield in Bushey, which is run by Riverside Housing along with Catharine House in South Oxhey, said: “I know tenants are very anxious with regards to what will happen.


“Those on housing benefit will feel their position here as tenants has been comprised, because their income will be stretched to the limit.

“The only way tenants can find the money to pay for support is to cut down on food and heating.

“I came to Faithfield knowing there is support on site from a scheme manager and this is what sheltered living is about.”

Another tenant, Irene Saunders, said she will have to find another £9.95 every week to enjoy the same quality of life.

Spokesperson for Riverside Housing, Jeanette Kelsey, said: “Riverside’s sheltered schemes offer activities and opportunities not only for the tenants at the scheme, but also for older people from the local community. In order to continue our services, we are having to ask our tenants to pay for their support which Riverside had previously received funding on their behalf from the county council.

“Many of our tenants are on minimum incomes and pensions and are worried about the extra costs involved, however, we will be helping our tenants to manage their situation, should they face financial trouble, and will continue to provide a high quality of care and support.”

Thrive Homes said it would lose £164,000 in funding and so it was introducing a “small weekly charge” for alarms. It added it would consult tenants about future services.

Currently all 24 housing associations have the option to choose their own alarm system and associated ground response services.

The new scheme will give county responsibility for providing these alarms, which it will delegate to North Herts District Council.

The council said it hopes the changes will bring a more “universal community based support service” for older people.

According to a cabinet report, more than 80 per cent of older people do not live in sheltered housing schemes; and those that do often have support and services provided regardless of whether they need it.

Councillor Colette Wyatt-Lowe, the county council’s cabinet member for adult care and health, said: “This is a positive initiative to set up a countywide alarm service.

“The new arrangement will replace an inequitable system of housing-related support, which does not meet the needs of the 80 per cent of older people in Hertfordshire who do not live in sheltered accommodation.

“All housing providers affected were made aware of these changes at least one year beforehand so they could plan accordingly.”

She added it would enable the council to contribute £500,000 to the Herts Healthy Homes scheme, which provides information and support to help people stay healthy and safe at home.


The Hampshire pensioners charged £60 just to change a lightbulb
The Hampshire pensioners charged £60 just to change a lightbulb
First published Thursday 15 January 2015 in Eastleigh
Last updated 16:00 Thursday 15 January 2015
PENSIONERS have been left angered after being told by housing association bosses that they face a £60 charge – just to change a light bulb.

Residents of Doreen Wellfare House, in Eastleigh, have been told that the charge will apply to minor maintenance work – including changing a bulb.

They described their disbelief after a newsletter from Radian to residents stated that from now on they would be expected to pay £60 each time they need the basic domestic task done.

But bosses at Radian say they have a number of expenses to cover, now that the block’s handyman has left the firm, until they get a replacement.

Other housing associations in Hampshire contacted by the Daily Echo indicated that in such cases they would deem the resident responsible for dealing with such problems themselves.

Although one said they would do it on residents’ behalf, this would incur a substantial administration and call out charge.

Residents at Doreen Wellfare House, which provides sheltered accommodation for the elderly, range from their 60s to 90s and some argue that those without family and friends to help may struggle to afford the fee.

A letter from Radian, which runs the accommodation, in Yonge Close, says: “Radian now charges approximately £60 for each light bulb that may need changing in your flat.”

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The service, it says, was previously done free by the premises’ handyman, but he left his job at Christmas and Radian says that until he can be replaced that is the charge.

Jenny Rafis, 66, said that she plans to fight against it.

She said: “It’s disgusting. It’s sheltered accommodation, they’re supposed to help you.

“I’m lucky, I have got people I can call on, but there are a few people here who have got very f e w friends or relatives.”

She added: “None of us should be standing on chairs, we’re all OAPs. They are targeting people who are not going to fight it. Are people going to have an accident?”

Resident Maddy Bowman, 63, said that residents already pay a £21-a-month service charge, but Radian says that this is for maintenance and cleaning of communal areas only.

“It’s unfair,” she said. “The injustice is the £60. That’s the call-out fee for a professional if you live in your own home – we pay a service charge.”

Daily Echo:

A 45-year-old woman, from Eastleigh, who has an elderly relative living in the flats, added: “They cannot get away with charging £60 to change a light bulb for anybody, let alone somebody who is ill or infirm or elderly who can’t, for health reasons, get up on a chair.

“It’s taking advantage of vulnerable people.”

Councillor Keith Trenchard, who represents the Eastleigh Central ward on Eastleigh Borough Council, said: “We have to look after our elderly folk.

“It’s quite a lot. If they need just a light bulb changing it’s a big chunk out of their savings.”

The flats do not have a permanent warden on site, but do have an independent living officer, who answers emergency alarm calls when on duty, but Radian said that changing light bulbs was not part of their job.

Radian said that it did have a handyman at its other independent living properties who replaces light bulbs free, and that it was recruiting to bring in a new handyman “as soon as possible”.

‘Our agreement obliges certain repairs’

A SPOKESWOMAN for Radian said that it did try to provide free help with services for residents in independent living accommodation, where possible.

But she said that like anyone living in their own home, when residents needed minor repairs or tasks, they needed to make their own arrangements, either hiring someone or getting help from friends or family.

She said that residents’ tenancy agreements oblige them to make certain repairs, which includes light bulbs.

“At present we do not have anyone available at Doreen Wellfare House who can carry out these types of jobs and so at the residents’ request we would need to call out one of our repair team; there are a number of related costs associated with doing so.

“Radian’s independent living officers would at no point leave a vulnerable person in the dark.
These officers have the discretion in exceptional cases to waive the cost.”


lderly residents petrified after sheltered housing is withdrawn
ELDERLY residents are petrified of being left without support as sheltered housing is to be withdrawn in the East End.
Hannah Rodger
Hannah Rodger
Tuesday 13/01/2015
Sheltered housing, threatened with funding cuts, in Dale Path, Bridgeton. Picture: COLIN TEMPLETON.
Sheltered housing, threatened with funding cuts, in Dale Path, Bridgeton. Picture: COLIN TEMPLETON.
Thenue Housing Association can no longer cover the cost of the vital support service after the City Council slashed their funding by 40%.

The cuts of more than £36,000, which form part of a plan to save £2 million, are due to take effect in April forcing housing bosses to make the drastic move to save staff jobs.

Other housing associations across the city which offer sheltered housing have also received a cut to their funding and are yet to decide on a plan of action.

More are anticipated to follow Thenue’s example of moving towards a retirement home model, which does not offer care from housing officers.

Any care needed by elderly residents would be referred externally and some residents who do not receive benefits may be forced to pay extra to cover the costs.

Plans to cut the funding were discussed last month at the council’s executive committee meeting, but are due to be reconsidered this week after a number of objections were received.

Councillor Alison Thewliss, SNP councillor for Bridgeton, said: “The people who access the sheltered housing are scared and worried because they feel the housing support officers prevent them from becoming more ill and having to access more serious Social Work services.

“In Bridgeton, housing officers have been key in making sure elderly residents who have no family support have had diagnoses with dementia, for example.

“That will be removed with this cut because the housing association cannot absorb that.

“Who is looking after these elderly people?

“They are genuinely terrified that nobody will be looking after them.”

A spokesman for Thenue Housing said that its priority at all times was the wellbeing and housing needs of its sheltered housing tenants.

He added: “Thenue has recorded a consistently strong performance on the delivery of sheltered housing as borne out by the Care Inspectorate. “Our sheltered housing service has been inspected three times since 2009. On all three occasions the service has been awarded a ‘very good’ grade.

“However, with the Council cutting our grant funding by 40%, the service in its current form is not sustainable.

“We are consulting with our sheltered housing tenants on an alternative which we hope will provide the very best service we can within current financial constraints”.

Currently more than 100 residents make use of sheltered housing at two of Thenue’s sites in Bridgeton and Calton.

Four housing support staff, who provide essential care to some of the city’s most vulnerable residents, are now facing redundancy.

A council spokesman said: “As currently delivered, the housing support service does not fit with our need to focus on early intervention and prevention services.

“Residents without any social care needs at all are receiving support through this service, which runs against our approach of targeting valuable resources at those with substantial and critical needs.

“There is also no emphasis on the kind of recovery and rehabilitation work that is now a standard feature of social work practice as it helps people move on from requiring support.

“The Executive Committee decided last month that £3m will remain in the budget for the housing support service.

“We are in detailed dialogue with housing support providers on how this money can be spent most effectively.”


Sheltered housing residents in Bodmin: “Our community has been destroyed”
By CGMikeS | Posted: January 20, 2015

ANGRY: From left, secretary Yvonne Davies, Pauline Flynn and Mary Fisher, who say losing the resident warden has destroyed a community,
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RESIDENTS of a sheltered housing complex in Bodmin say their small community has been destroyed after a highly regarded on-site warden was made redundant last year.

After 19 years’ service Kerry Banbury was relieved of her duties at Bederkesa Court in October despite previous assurances that her job was safe.
The company, council-owned Cornwall Housing Ltd, changed the system from a single resident warden available 24/7 to a warden who visits the site for two hours each day, a move which outraged residents, many of whom are now in their nineties and very frail.

Some say they moved to the property in the Eighties precisely because of its 24-hour residential warden service.

Pauline Flynn, who lives in the complex along with her 98-year-old mother, said losing the resident warden had destroyed a community.

“When Cornwall Housing disposed of the support officer we tried to tell them that they would be turning it into a block of flats instead of the close, friendly little community that it was, and that’s what’s happened,” she said.

“Taking away that one person who pulled it all together and kept the residents socialising has turned it into a lonely place.

“The residents now spend most of their days in their flats with no socialisation. It’s not good for their health or their minds and has made a vast difference to their quality of life. It’s no longer the happy place it once was.”

Mrs Flynn said the changes had left residents feeling vulnerable, and some had even moved into care homes.

“Instead of a calendar full of social activities arranged by the support officer, who cared enough to organise these, now there’s nothing. That’s been taken anyway with one stroke of a pen.

“For the first time in many years there were no Christmas decorations, no festivities, no celebrations and no unity.”

Secretary and fellow resident Yvonne Davies described the situation as “absolute hell”.

“The so-called warden is only here two hours a day, and it’s never two hours the same,” she said. “I never see anybody in the corridors here and there’s nothing going on in the function room.

“It’s depressing, and we all feel the same. It feels like everything has been taken away from us.”

Cornwall Housing said it recognised that the decision to terminate Mrs Banbury’s contract had caused concern to residents, and it was working with them and with the local Cornwall councillor to find a way forward.

Managing director Jane Barlow, said: “There haven’t been resident wardens at our sheltered housing schemes for several years, as our contract with [Cornwall Council] didn’t provide for this approach.

“What we did have were Independent Living Support officers, available for a few hours a week during regular office hours, who supported some residents and people with support needs in the wider community. This service ended in October when the funding came to an end.”

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Tenants left worried after council axes support grants for sheltered housing schemes

Tenants left worried after council axes support grants for sheltered housing schemes
Tenants left worried after council axes support grants for sheltered housing schemes


Worried tenants fear they could be “stretched to the limit” by increased rent after a council scrapped support grants for sheltered housing schemes.

Hertfordshire County Council has axed its Supporting People Grant which supports 24 housing providers around the county for services.

All of those contracts will expire on March 31 and will be replaced by a countywide community alarm service, to be run by North Herts District Council, which will be available to elderly people with a standard weekly charge for all new service users from April 1.

The authority is setting aside a £100,000 budget for housing-related support and for the conversion of qualifying sheltered housing schemes to Flexicare Housing with on-site care and support.

Currently all 24 housing associations across the county have the option to choose its own alarm system and associated on the ground response services.

The new scheme will give the county responsibility for providing these alarms, which it will delegate to North Herts District Council.

The council said it hopes the changes will bring a more “universal community based support service’”for older people.

According to a cabinet report, more than 80 per cent of older people do not live in sheltered housing schemes; and those that do live in sheltered housing support and services are often provided to them regardless of whether they need it.

Councillor Colette Wyatt-Lowe, the county council’s cabinet member for adult care and health, said: “This is a positive initiative to set up a countywide alarm service.

“The new arrangement will replace an inequitable system of housing-related support, which does not meet the needs of the 80 per cent of older people in Hertfordshire, who do not live in sheltered accommodation.

“All housing providers affected were made aware of these changes at least one year beforehand so they could plan accordingly.”

She added it would enable the council to contribute £500,000 to the Herts Healthy Homes scheme, which provides information and support to help people stay healthy and safe at home.



Anti-social behaviour forced us out of Tewkesbury home, say elderly couple
By RobinJenkins | Posted: February 02, 2015

clee house
Clee House in Tewkesbury.
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An elderly couple say repeated anti-social behaviour in their Tewkesbury sheltered housing accommodation forced them to move out.

John and Doreen Richards have blamed their departure from the Clee House complex in Lanes Court on a lack of action by the organisation running it, Housing & Care 21.
Mr Richards, 74 said he and his 67-year-old wife had numerous incidents of anti-social behaviour to put up with over two years.

They mainly centred on one resident who, they claimed, would keep them up at night by coming home drunk and banging doors and windows.
More than 20,000 crimes have gone unsolved in Gloucestershire in 2014
Mr Richards said the resident’s activity breached security and safety regulations at the complex with, for example, fire doors being deliberately propped open.

And he said there had also been a problem in the complex with theft including, most seriously, when a resident had vital medication stolen from her flat.

Mr Richards, who was particularly keen to live in a secure place after previously being a victim of burglary, said one of the most alarming incidents happened in February last year.

He said: “The resident came back to the block. He was drunk, couldn’t find his key and was threatening to kick the front door down.

“The police were called and the key was found in his pocket. This disturbance went on for about an hour.”

Mr Richards said Housing & Care 21 failed to do much about the situation and took six months to respond to three of his formal complaints.

Eventually, in August last year, he and his wife decided they had had enough and left to go to another sheltered housing complex in Gloucester.

He said: “Initially, we were completely ignored by Housing & Care 21 and in the end I went to the Housing Ombudsman and it partially found in my favour.”

The Ombudsman ordered Housing & Care 21 to pay Mr Richards £50 due to the “stress and inconvenience caused by the initial delays in the internal complaints procedure”.

But it cleared the not-for-profit organisation of maladministration, saying it felt it had taken “appropriate actions” in response to the anti-social behaviour and security issues. The Ombudsman said those included meeting Mr Richards, liaising with the police and issuing a resident with an anti-social behaviour warning.

Mr Richards was unhappy with the Ombudsman’s findings and has asked Gloucester MP Richard Graham to see if he can make it easier for organisations like Housing & Care 21 to be held to account.

He said he understood there were still problems with anti-social behaviour at Clee House, where there had not been a permanent on-site manager since last October.

A Housing & Care 21 spokesman said: “We take all complaints about anti-social behaviour on our courts extremely seriously. This case was dealt with in accordance with all of our established complaints procedures and the Housing Ombudsman found no maladministration.

“A new court manager has been recruited for Clee House and is due to start work very soon.”

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Disabled Harborne woman tackles thief to the ground in gang robbery of their sheltered housing home
06:00, 1 September 2014 By Emma McKinney
Fearless Marion Pedersen was watching TV with her husband Andrew when five men burst into their home

Marion and Andrew Pedersen had five hoodie-wearing thieves burst into their sheltered accommodationMarion and Andrew Pedersen had five hoodie-wearing thieves burst into their sheltered accommodation
A brave disabled Birmingham woman has described the terrifying moment when she fought off a gang of hooded thieves who had broken in to her sheltered housing flat.

Marion Pedersen was watching TV with her husband Andrew when five men burst into their home in Elm Tree Road, Harborne.

Fearful one of the men was about to attack her husband, who is registered blind and suffers from kidney failure, Marion leapt on one of the assailants – grappling him to the ground in a headlock.

The 47-year-old, who suffers from several health conditions – including epilepsy and osteoporosis – suffered a fractured rib during the horrific ordeal at around 12.10am on Thursday.

The men, who ransacked the flat, fled as soon as the mother-of-one started screaming for help.

Mrs Pedersen said: “One minute we were watching TV and the next thing we knew these men were in the room, running amok searching for things to steal.

“I was petrified and initially felt frozen to my chair, but then I thought one of them was going to do something to Andrew.

“Instinct just came over me, I don’t know if I was being brave or just stupid.

“I got the thief in a headlock and dragged him down to the floor.

“I pulled back his hooded top as I wanted to get a good look at the face of someone who could do something so heartless.

“But then he pushed me off him and I felt my rib go and I started screaming. That’s when they ran off.”

She said the thieves got away with the couple’s laptop computer, a mobile phone and a purse containing a small amount of cash and credit cards.

Her 50-year-old husband has lost “a lifeline” as relatives used the laptop to help entertain him while he sits through three four-hour sessions of dialysis every week.

“I am sickened that anyone can break into someone’s home, particularly when they know it is sheltered accommodation for vulnerable, disabled and old people,” added Marion, who was treated at the scene by paramedics following the incident. “I’m worried sick that they will come back and have another go.”

She urged the public to help find the men who carried out the robbery.

“I want them to be punished and I want to prevent anyone else from having this happen to them,” she added.

The thieves were described as Asian, aged between 18 and 20, and of a slim build. The man who Marion challenged was sporting facial hair, including a small beard and moustache.

A spokeswoman for West Midlands Police said an investigation had been launched into the incident and she appealed for anyone with information to call 101.


Thousands of Staffordshire residents to be hit by sheltered housing cuts
More than 4,200 residents will be hit by cuts to sheltered housing budgets across Staffordshire – with bosses warning charges could rise.
Funding for eight firms that provide the housing has already been cut by up to 50 per cent – and cash for all 15 organisations will cease in March.

The housing firms will have to pay for services to residents themselves – or find other ways to raise the money – such as increasing rents.

Some 98 sheltered housing sites across Staffordshire are affected, including Grace Moor Court and Capstone Court in Cannock.

Among the firms affected are Bromford Housing, where 1,300 residents will see their support cut or drastically reduced.

The cuts are part of the council slashing its £11 million Supporting People funding by £6 million, cash which is also used to fund community alarms and domestic violence support.

Final plans have not yet been drawn up but options include reducing the service, increasing charges, or even introducing a ‘pay as you go’ system.

It comes as the council looks to cut more than £100 million over five years – with hundreds of jobs at risk.

Fears have been raised that residents will struggle to pay any extra fees.

Stafford councillor Maureen Compton said: “I cannot believe that the county council is proposing to hit the vulnerable and elderly with such a cut in its budget.

“Surely, such people should have priority and savings ought to be found elsewhere.”

A report to the council states: “Providers were engaged early in discussions about the potential changes and asked to consider re-configuring their service delivery models on the basis of a 50 per cent reduction in funding from October 2014, with funding ceasing during 2015/16.

“Some asked whether, as an alternative, they could continue to receive 100 per cent funding until March.

“This request was accommodated for seven of the provider organisations and had a neutral effect on the budget position.

“At present, providers are planning to or have already begun to consult with their tenants and are still considering the preferred changes to their service delivery models which include a reduced level of service; increased service charges; and/or re-configuring services legitimately to attract higher levels of housing benefit; or offering service

on a pay as you go basis.”

But council bosses insist the cuts are ‘likely to see most, if not all sheltered housing schemes remain thus reducing the need for people to consider moving to alternative accommodation’.

Councillor Alan White, the council’s cabinet member for care, has said the number of contracts with firms needs to be simplified, and that the authority is discussing what help is available for people.







Woman in prison after terrorizing residents in sheltered housing
By The Bristol Post | Posted: February 16, 2015

Police tape
PC Hall said: “The judge clearly took a dim view of the defiance she’s shown and the continued misery she’s caused to people in their homes.
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A woman who was banned from visiting a sheltered housing complex has been sentenced to two months in prison for breaching the injunction.

For the past couple of years, complaints have been made about alcohol-fuelled anti-social behaviour at Latchmoor House in Bedminster Down.
The behaviour by 35-year-old Elizabeth Taylor has caused much distress to many of the elderly people who live there.

The sentence follows the efforts of PC Gareth Hall, who was determined to end the misery the woman was causing to the elderly residents.

Taylor was arrested by PC Hall at the end of January, but still went on to breach the injunction.

PC Hall said: “The judge clearly took a dim view of the defiance she’s shown and the continued misery she’s caused to people in their homes.

“She not only has no right to stay there, but has repeatedly breached a court injunction forbidding her from even being there.

“I really hope the residents now enjoy a better quality of life and she shows more respect for them when released from prison.”

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Plymouth Council tenants say ‘yes’ to stock transfer Plymouth Council tenants say ‘yes’ to stock transfer
A grandmother lay dead in her sheltered housing accommodation for three days before her body was discovered.

Sylvia Jay was supposed to be checked on every day by landlord Sanctuary Housing.

However, the social landlord only discovered her body after a friend of the 76-year-old raised concerns after not seeing her for several days.

Mrs Jay’s daughter has claimed that Sanctuary should have sent a warden to check on her mother every day.

Linda Jay, 52, said: “We are in shock at the moment but we are not leaving it. We put my mum in warden-controlled housing so she would get a knock on her door at 9.30 am every day. She’s not been getting that knock and that knock could have saved her life.”

Mrs Jay was last seen at her flat in Beane River View, Hertford on Tuesday last week.

In a statement, Sanctuary’s national services manager, Claire Irwin, said: “Our sympathies go to Mrs Jay’s family and friends and we will extend them every support and assistance at this very difficult time.

“We are looking into the circumstances and will keep the family fully informed. Mrs Jay was a vibrant and active member of our community and will be greatly missed.”

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Sheltered housing warden concerns raised months before woman’s death
CONCERN was raised about the care of elderly people at an Inverness sheltered housing complex seven months before a resident was found dead, The Inverness Courier can reveal.

Shirley Beattie contacted Highland Council last May to complain about procedures at the Balnacraig complex in Dalneigh, where her mother lived. She was assured that all procedures were being followed.

But last week it emerged that the Care Commission had called on the local authority to draw up an urgent plan to improve warden services across the city following the death of a woman at the complex in December. She was discovered by her daughter in the evening, still in her night clothes and with the curtains drawn

“When I read this in the paper I was absolutely fizzing,” said Miss Beattie, of Mile End Place, Kinmylies.

“I was raging and thought maybe that woman may not have died if they (the council) had done something about it when I complained.”

She has now raised her concerns with the Care Commission.

When her mother Annie died in her room at Queen Mother’s House part of the Balnacraig development last May, Miss Beattie says she pulled the emergency chord but no-one responded.

“I phoned for an ambulance and the police came but no warden came over,” she added.

She claims that on three separate occasions before her mother died the alarm was activated but no warden attended. Twice her mother required a doctor and on the third occasion there had been a fire in her room.

“Once I got the phone call about the fire that’s when I started to worry about the warden,” said Miss Beattie, who also queried whether staff visited residents daily.

“Not very often did mum mention the warden and I saw her every day. She had lived with me but she wanted somewhere of her own. Just before she died she said she should never have left.”

Miss Beattie added that around the time her mother died there had been six or seven deaths of other residents in the complex.

“I complained to warden services,” she recalled. “More than?one person had died, that couldn’t be right all pretty much in the same circumstances.”

Although not satisfied with the council’s assurance that all procedures had been followed, she did not take the matter any further, something she now regrets.

“It could have saved someone else from dying if the Care Commission had been contacted. But I did not know who to go to at the time.”

The council declined to comment on Miss Beattie’s concerns but insisted all complaints were taken seriously.

“We have a complaints procedure that is available to anyone with concerns about our services,” said a spokesman.

“Sheltered housing warden services are also registered with and regulated by the Care Commission and the Care Commission will investigate any complaints it receives regarding warden services.

“The council co-operates fully with the Care Commission in its regulatory role and will act on any recommendations received in relation to our services.”

A spokesman for the commission confirmed this week that further complaints had been lodged with its Inverness office since the original complaint was upheld.

“We have had a couple of phone calls raising concerns,” he said.

Meanwhile, it is understood that tenants living in another sheltered housing complex in Inverness are to be asked their views on warden services following a separate complaint to a local councillor.



pensioner dies when visits reduced

A coroner has criticised a social landlord because a sheltered housing resident fell and died after her daily support visits were reduced to once a month.

The pensioner is thought to have been lying on her floor for several days before being spotted by a neighbour walking past.

She was one of around 1,700 sheltered housing residents in Derby who previously received daily visits from an onsite warden.

The warden system was replaced last year with ‘floating support’. Residents now receive support visits daily, weekly or monthly, depending on an assessment of their needs.

The service is being reviewed further to establish how many residents could do without the monthly visits.

The coroner wrote to arm’s-length management organisation Derby Homes last month criticising it for failing to tell the pensioner’s relatives and friends about the huge reduction in support visits.

Derby Homes chief executive Phil Davies described the change to floating support as a widespread response to tightening Supporting People budgets. He said the organisation would not consider reverting to a warden service, terming the previous system as ‘static’ and ‘one-size-fits-all’.

Responding to the coroner’s criticisms, he said: ‘It was not our process to inform relatives of that sort of change. I guess we rather assumed it was either private, between the customer and ourselves, or it would be for the customer to mention it to their relatives.’

The organisation has now agreed to inform the relatives of tenants whose visits have been reduced, with permission from the tenants.

In his response to the coroner, Mr Davies said he would share the experience with other providers.

Supporting People manager Farooq Malik said the frequency of visits to residents was not reduced unless the team was completely confident that all their support needs were being met.

‘We keep monitoring the situation and if something happens like hospitalisation, we will be straight in and put them on daily visits,’ he said.

Sheltered housing grandmother’s body lay undiscovered for three days

A grandmother lay dead in her sheltered housing accommodation for three days before her body was discovered.

Sylvia Jay was supposed to be checked on every day by landlord Sanctuary Housing.

However, the social landlord only discovered her body after a friend of the 76-year-old raised concerns after not seeing her for several days.

Mrs Jay’s daughter has claimed that Sanctuary should have sent a warden to check on her mother every day.

Linda Jay, 52, said: “We are in shock at the moment but we are not leaving it. We put my mum in warden-controlled housing so she would get a knock on her door at 9.30 am every day. She’s not been getting that knock and that knock could have saved her life.”

Mrs Jay was last seen at her flat in Beane River View, Hertford on Tuesday last week.

In a statement, Sanctuary’s national services manager, Claire Irwin, said: “Our sympathies go to Mrs Jay’s family and friends and we will extend them every support and assistance at this very difficult time.

“We are looking into the circumstances and will keep the family fully informed. Mrs Jay was a vibrant and active member of our community and will be greatly missed.”



Pensioner strangled and stabbed to death just weeks after moving into sheltered housing

Shocking: Margery Gilbey had only moved into her flat 10 weeks ago
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Published: 31 May 2013

The son of a pensioner killed in a suspected burglary in a sheltered housing block today said he had been left “numb” by the shocking death of his “wonderful mother”.

Margery Gilbey, 88, was strangled and stabbed in the neck in her home in Sonali Gardens in Shadwell, east London on Friday afternoon.

Her son Alan, 55, told the Standard that she was the “kindest most gentle person” who was liked by everyone she met.

Speaking at his Bethnal Green home he said: “I am just numb at the moment I can’t believe what has happened.

“She was a wonderful person and mother. She was very straightforward and kind, she had old fashioned east end values.

“Everywhere she lived she was well liked. The staff at the sheltered accommodation loved her and they have no blame for what happened. Now I just need to mourn all this is just sinking in.”

Staff discovered the pensioner’s body in the first floor flat. She had only moved into the sheltered accomodation 10 weeks ago because of difficulty getting around on her own.

A 17-year-old youth from Romford appeared at Stratford Magistrates’ Court on Monday charged with Mrs Gilbey’s murder.

Mrs Gilbey, affectionately known as Madge, was a well-known and popular face in the East End and had worked as a cook at Cath’s cafe in Cable Street for many years.

Friend and former neighbour Mary Ayres, 76, said: “Madge was a lovely woman. I remember her at the cafe where she was a very hard worker and very popular. She always had a smile on her face.

“In later years she loved shopping and would always go out looking smart. She also loved flowers and was such a gentle person.

“We are so shocked by what has happened. She probably felt safe in sheltered accommodation.”

Chris Munday, managing director of Sanctuary Supported Living, which runs the home, said: “We were deeply shocked and saddened by Margery Gilbey’s death and our thoughts are with her family.

“Margery was a very kind and gentle lady and will be greatly missed by our staff and all who knew her.”

He reassured residents that the group is working with police to ensure the home, which has 30 one bedroom flats and 10 two bedroom flats, is secure.

Investigating officer Det Ch Insp Graeme Gwyne said it was unclear whether anything had been stolen during the alleged burglary.

The 17-year-old youth charged with murder was remanded in custody to appear at Stratford Youth Court on June 24.

Police urged anyone who saw anything suspicious to contact them on 020 8721 4805, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.




A pensioner who travelled into the West End from his sheltered housing to sell crack cocaine has been jailed.

Alvin Ricketts, 74, sold “high-grade” Class A drugs to undercover police officers in Soho to fund his own habit and top up his pension.

The grandfather-of-two often wore a shirt and tie to sell drugs, completing the look with dinner scarves or flamboyant hats including with a soft toy wolf’s head and a fedora.
Jailed: Alvin Ricketts, 74, sold “high-grade” Class A drugs to undercover police officers
Jailing Ricketts for two years and nine months at Southwark Crown Court yesterday, the judge warned him that he faced dying prison if he reoffended on his release.

Ricketts has 36 previous convictions beginning in 1966.

His hands shook and he needed a courtroom hearing aid as he stood in the dock at Southwark Crown Court yesterday (MON), a baggy grey suit hanging off of his “frail” frame.

Alvin Ricketts
Guilty: Ricketts sold Class A drugs to an undercover officer
Ricketts changed his plea to guilty on the day his trial was due to begin.

He was caught in January as part of Operation Rense targeting crack cocaine and heroin dealers in Soho, which has seen 38 people jailed.

The court heard that Ricketts sold two rocks of crack to undercover officers for £20 after producing them from his mouth.

Crown prosecutor Adrian Flasher told the court that both transactions were “caught on recording equipment worn by the officers during the operation”.

Alvin Ricketts
Caught: Ricketts was targeted as part of Operation Rense
The judge noted the rocks were “quite high in quality” in an area known for ripping off addicts.

Ricketts, a cocaine and heroin user, also worked as a tout for Soho bars and clubs.

He lived in sheltered housing in Mayfield Avenue, Finchley, where he paid £1,000 monthly rent, for which he received £720 housing benefit.

Alvin Ricketts
High-grade: the drugs sold by Ricketts were ‘quite high in quality’
Ricketts drew a £140 weekly pension, but needed more money to feed his drugs habit.

Defence counsel Colin Aylott said Ricketts cut a “frail” and “pathetic figure” in the dock.

He said: “It’s a source of some shame to him that a man of his maturity finds himself not only dealing in the way that he did but when he was arrested he was tested at the police station and tested positive for both heroin and cocaine.”

Ricketts pleaded guilty to two counts of supplying Class A drugs, and was jailed for two years and nine months, with each sentence to run concurrently.

Two further charges to lay on file and Ricketts has been evicted from the sheltered housing.

He was also given a five-year anti-social behaviour order banning him from large parts of the West End.

His Honour Judge Pitts told Ricketts: “You risk ending your life in prison, which would be a very sad way to go.”

Detective Chief Superintendent Kevin Southworth, who led the operation, said afterwards: “His conviction and sentence should again be a stark warning to others that Westminster Police are absolutely committed to tackling drug-related crime in all its forms.”



Hackney police have released CCTV images of the suspects they wish to speak to after the burglary at around 8pm on Sunday, January 26.

A spokesman for the Met said the two women were seen pressing the intercom on CCTV to gain access to Ajex House in East Bank before speaking to spoke to several residents and trying to gain access to their homes.

They managed to get into one flat, where they allegedly stole several items including cash and credit cards, said police.

Both suspects are described as Mediterranean in appearance and between 18 to 28 years old. The first was wearing a green jacket over a pink hooded top with the hood up.

And the second was wearing a green khaki print jacket, black shoes and white socks.

Anyone with information should contact DC Rob Whewell at Stoke Newington Police Station on 0207 275 3412, quoting reference 4602380/14, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.



Fake police officers get into sheltered housing to steal elderly women’s cash

14:14 02 April 2014 Lizzie Dearden
Sheltered accomodation was burgled by two men posing as policemen
Sheltered accomodation was burgled by two men posing as policemen
Fake police officers conned their way into a sheltered housing complex to steal elderly residents’ cash.

Related articles
Fake police officers targeting ‘vulnerable’ elderly women in Redbridge
Fake police officers steal cash and jewellery from elderly woman in Wanstead

Wearing uniform, they told their two victims they were trying to safeguard them from criminals to gain their trust at Bernard House in Hainault.

The women, one in her 70s and one in her 90s, only realised they had been burgled after the two male “officers” left shortly before 9pm on Sunday.

One was told police needed to search her home because there was an intruder in the building, in Henry’s Walk, and the other excuse was a stolen handbag.

Both victims lost unknown amounts of money but neither was injured.

Ayo Morakinyo, a senior support worker, said one woman had since gone into hospital.

“She went in on Monday,” he added. “She’s been in and out for months but I think that was part of it.

“Some of the residents are still a bit shaken.”

The women had buzzed the thieves into the flats, trusting their uniform.

Mr Morakinyo added: “They both realised something was wrong and called attendants when they left.”

It comes after a string of crimes involving thieves posing as police officers.

Redbridge Police issued a warning in February, when three homes were burgled in just a day in Hainault, Barkingside and Clayhall.

The force said the suspects were two men posing as police officers who flashed “some sort of ID” to gain entry.

Money and jewellery was stolen from three women described as “elderly and vulnerable”.

Later in the month, a similar burglary was reported in Wanstead.

Police have not said whether the crimes are linked but are urging people to be wary letting strangers into their homes.

Anyone faced with a persistent caller should shut the door and dial 999.

To check the validity of anyone claiming to be a police officer, call 101 to confirm their identity.

Anyone with information should call Redbridge Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

No arrests have been made.

planning for increase in older people

older person joined up care
I have been in sheltered housing for 12 years,
And chair of a resident association with 150 sheltered homes plus 60 mixed properties general needs purchased and private rental.
I believe it is time to address the increased older population in a joined up way.
problems with current system it is separating care from homes and putting vulnerable people in groups not able to take control of the care they get, i.e. care homes on their own have in the past left them open to abuse simply because they are not able challenge what is going on.
a different approach is needed, to improve on sheltered housings new sites should be a home for life by having within them care extra care and care homes.
this would allow older people to make a conscious decision to make the move in the knowledge that no further moves would be necessary taking away the constant upheaval of moving though the stages physically, moving home is a stressful event for the most fit of us, imagine when you are 70 plus moving 3 times as you become frail and needing more care.
the added advantage would be within this community would be younger more aware residents and this mix of community
would ensure the frailer residents would have support and social activities.
this system also addresses bed blocking in the full range of care would be on site.
it would also assist in better use of housing stock as older persons would downsize releasing larger homes in both public and private sector their families would have comfort in the knowledge that the system and community together makes it a secure home for life.carers & nurses would be more productive travel time would be zero as they would be already on site.
this together with the cost saving from the much reduced need to go into care homes an expensive option for councils and families.


we are not moving

“We are not going anywhere,” say residents
Tuesday, 01 April 2014
Some of the St Chad’s Green residents, pictured last Friday with Mayor of Midsomer Norton, Paul Myers. Those who live there say there is a real sense of community that they would not wish to lose.
Some of the St Chad’s Green residents, pictured last Friday with Mayor of Midsomer Norton, Paul Myers. Those who live there say there is a real sense of community that they would not wish to lose.
Sheltered Housing residents at St Chad’s Green, a peaceful community of 29 people in Midsomer Norton, say they will face court and eviction rather than leave their homes, after it emerged the site’s landlord, Curo, is looking at options to potentially redevelop the land in future.
St Chad’s Green is exactly that – green. With only 25 dwellings in total, there is a large grassed communal area towards the back of the site, used presently by residents who may otherwise be lonely and isolated to share a cup of tea in the gardens, tended by resident and keen gardener, Tony Vranch. This area, though, could reasonably accommodate more buildings and residents say they are afraid that the landlord is more concerned about the value of the land, rather than those who live there. Speaking to the local media this week, the residents called an emergency meeting, alongside Midsomer Norton’s Mayor, Paul Myers, to ask for help.
The buildings, some of which have been specially adapted for families with severe disabilities, are around fifty years old and those who live there say that it is a popular site which is filled quickly if there is an empty property. Residents had recently become suspicious that all is not as it seems, with long-promised central heating to replace storage heaters still not installed and their requests for a car park unaddressed. Recently, officers have been actively looking at the site, which has caused many of the elderly tenants to feel frightened for their future at St Chad’s Green.
Speaking at the end of last week, Val Neil, from the recently-formed Residents’ Association, said: “This situation isn’t fair, we thought these homes would be our resting place. It’s the not knowing, living in limbo – I don’t want to live like that. I love my home – my home is my castle. I shouldn’t have to start again, aged 79, somewhere new and surrounded by people I don’t know. I speak for everyone here when I say we are not going anywhere.”
A partially-sighted resident also spoke at the meeting, saying she now knew her surroundings so well that should she have to move, she wouldn’t have the confidence to go out again. Those present also spoke about how they all care and look out for each other and felt that should they have to move, their self-made community would be lost forever.
After being contacted by The Journal, Curo released a statement from Chris Trowell, Head of Strategic Projects, this week. He said: “It is important that our homes are kept in good condition and that they meet the needs of our future customers as well as current residents. We will be carrying out a ‘stock condition survey’ of our homes at St Chad’s, which are now nearly fifty years old.
“This will help us plan for any major spending on our homes to keep them up-to-date. We will also be looking at other options to make sure our plans provide good value. This is important because much of the money comes from our tenants’ rent.
“We have just started to think about our future plans for those homes at St Chad’s. This may lead to us renovating or rebuilding the homes, changing the types of homes, or leaving them as they are.
“We understand this news might be unsettling for some residents and we would like to reassure them that no decisions have been made. We would consult residents on any proposals that might affect their home. The earliest any decision would be made is during the autumn.
“If we decide that St Chad’s is in need of major work, this would be very carefully planned. We would work closely with residents, family members and carers to make sure everyone is able to move to a suitable alternative home.
“Because we are at such an early stage, we have not contacted residents yet, however, we will be visiting residents of St Chad’s to answer any questions or concerns about this. We ask any concerned residents to contact us on: 01225 366000 to talk to their dedicated neighbourhood manager or sheltered housing officer.”
Cllr Paul Myers said at the meeting last Friday that he would be writing to Curo, alongside fellow Conservative Councillor, Chris Watt, to ask the landlord to confirm or deny the residents’ fears within a deadline. He said that the situation, which is causing much emotional distress, is “Completely unacceptable” and that residents have a right to know what is going on.
All content © of The Midsomer Norton, Radstock & District Journal unless stated otherwise.

The Current Shambles in “Sheltered” Housing

If one asks the average British citizen on the street, “Are there wardens to help the elderly people in Sheltered Housing?” the answer is invariably, “Of course there are.” Some add, “If there were no wardens, it wouldn’t be Sheltered, would it?”

It comes as a huge surprise to them to be told that due to disjointed and counterproductive bureaucratic “cost-cutting” policy changes over the past ten years (under both the Labour and Coalition governments), many elderly and vulnerable people in “Sheltered” housing have been simply left to fend for themselves for up to 158 hours of every week (or even weeks on end).


The results are predictably devastating, not only for the residents themselves, but also for the NHS and the Emergency Services, which must try to pick up the pieces. Imagine the frustration of a paramedic who is stuck outside a locked security door at 3 AM, unable to reach the casualty lying on the floor of her flat because there is no warden on site to open the door. Imagine the futility of a doctor who must prescribe anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medications to many of his patients in the full knowledge that what they are actually suffering from is the desolation of intense loneliness and abandonment.

Imagine broken-down lifts which trap disabled residents on the upper floors without any way of accessing the outside world. Imagine icy car-parks left uncleared in the winter, so that an elderly resident who tried to venture forth in search of food for himself and his neighbours suffered a nasty fall and shattered his elbow. Imagine an elderly lady who was forced to climb onto a chair to try to change her own lightbulb (because she didn’t have the £50 she would have been charged for this service) and suffered massive fractures when the chair tipped over. Imagine two eighty-seven-year-olds going into a burning flat to rescue their neighbour (and her cat) when the firefighters were unable to get into the building. Imagine a resident found by a visitor lying dead in the foetal position, desperately clinging to a pull-cord that connected to nothing because the system had been down for days.

[All of these incidents, and many others of similar severity, have been reported and confirmed by Sheltered Housing UK during their research into the conditions faced by the residents.]

Counterproductive cost-cutting

The short-sighted “cost-cutting” policies created in an anonymous bureaucratic think-tank have thus led not only to life-threatening dangers and preventable deaths for the elderly and vulnerable residents, but also to massive inefficiency and wastage, the expenses of which must be borne (without their awareness) by the taxpayers. The only genuine cost-cuttings are those enjoyed by the landlords, who no longer have to pay the staff who used to make Sheltered Housing a safe and secure environment for their tenants.

Having thus externalised their costs to the taxpayers, the Housing Associations are routinely reporting ever-growing assets in the hundreds of millions of pounds; their CEOs happily take home salaries in the six figures. Equally advantageous to these huge conglomerate housing corporations is that they are allowed to register as Charities and thus take significant tax cuts. Small wonder then that they turn a deaf ear when the residents have the temerity to complain that the promises made to them when they moved into Sheltered Housing have been broken.

Official unconcern

Considerably more surprising is the fact that the Government also turns a deaf ear to the residents’ concerns. In the infamously overbearing “nanny-state” culture which regulates every aspect of our Health and Safety, it is an unfathomable mystery why there are no measures in place to ensure the security and well-being of vulnerable elderly people in “Sheltered” Housing.

Every letter to the Department of Communities and Local Government is answered (after a long delay) with a form letter saying that this is a matter for the local authorities; the local authorities’ standard reply is that Central Government spending policies tie their hands. In effect, the Localism Act (2011) is simply another term for the Abnegation of Responsibility Act.

Under that Act, MPs were supposed to assume a far greater role in protecting their most vulnerable constituents. Yet the majority of residents have found that they get no effective response from their MP at all. As one put it, “I might just as well have written to Mickey Mouse.” There are few vocal MPs who have expressed their concern in Parliamentary debate, but no one has introduced a Bill to ensure that Sheltered Housing residents are properly protected. Even the MPs who are also doctors (who ought to be keenly aware of the huge medical costs of loneliness and isolation) have been blandly offhand their response.

This is power-politics at its most effective: if those in authority ignore a complaint for long enough (which requires no expenditure of energy at all), the complainants become de-humanised and disempowered. They are made to feel invisible, insignificant, and profoundly frustrated by their ineffectiveness. They will then presumably simply give up and go away and thus be rendered no longer troublesome. Then the Housing Associations are free to impose any policy changes they wish (sometimes accompanied by farcically meaningless “consultation exercises”) without fear of any effective resistance.

Ineffective Regulation, Lack of Standards

The HCA Regulatory Framework, which is ostensibly intended to ensure that the residents are empowered and actively involved in the decisions which impact so heavily on their lives, is in fact just a case of “What they don’t know won’t help them.” Very few residents have any idea that there is a Regulatory Framework in place at all, and the great majority are too intimidated, too tired, too docile, or too confused to put up any opposition.

In the few cases where they have formed an effective Residents’ Association or found a committed advocate to fight their corner, the benighted policy of warden withdrawal has actually been reversed. But this leads to glaring discrepancies between one Sheltered Housing scheme and another; in one location residents may enjoy the presence of a kind and supportive warden, whereas in another scheme only a few miles away they are left without cover for days on end.

Surely there should be a universal Standard which all Sheltered Housing residents can count on to ensure that the conditions of their tenancy remain consistent and dependable. But the British Standards Institute Committee on Sheltered Housing steadfastly resisted any attempt to impose a common Standard: the industry is thus allowed to continue with the laissez-faire policy of self-regulation based on unspecified codes of “best practice”.

Effects of the Policy Changes

Dr. S. Monick, who has lived in a Sheltered Housing scheme in Sutton for 15 years, writes that the very nature of the caring, supportive atmosphere that used to be the ideal in such schemes has been whittled away to nothingness: first, the dedicated team of familiar and comforting carers has been replaced with an ever-changing array of unknown and distant agency staff; second, the term “warden” is not even in use any more, having been replaced by a “Supported Living Officer” who divides her working time in “floating” between three different schemes.

The third point raised by Dr. Monick is the most insidious of all: flats in formerly “Sheltered” Housing are now being routinely allocated to people whose needs are entirely inconsistent with those of the elderly and vulnerable residents who moved in seeking security and peace of mind.

Note that his warden is now called a “Supported Living Officer” – in many schemes, the term “Sheltered” Housing has been similarly changed to “Supported” Housing (again, without any prior notification or consultation with the residents). This change reflects the fact that the elderly residents of Sheltered Housing were lumped in together with a variety of other “client groups” under the Supporting People programme, and the funds available for the support of the elderly were then siphoned away to assist drug addicts, recovering alcoholics, and people with mental health problems.

While the elderly residents of Sheltered Housing are perfectly well aware that such groups do need assistance, it is profoundly unjust that they should be robbed of their security on that account. Most threatening of all, it now appears that the bureaucratic policy-makers who decided to divert the funding for the elderly to these other client groups have followed on by deciding that they should actually be housed in the schemes that were originally intended to keep the elderly safe (hence the name change from “Sheltered” to “Supported”).

Thus, the residents now find that their new neighbours are prone to varying degrees of wildly unpredictable and anti-social behaviour, Being frightened by this is not simply an indication of narrow-mindedness on their part: it represents a genuine danger which has transformed many formerly “Sheltered” Housing schemes into nightmare worlds where all the residents remain locked in their flats for fear of what might happen to them if they venture forth into the corridor.

In one scheme, a new tenant arrived who was well known to have a documented history of mental health problems, including violence towards women. The residents’ objections were ignored, and he was not removed until after he had pinned a woman against the wall with his hand around her throat. Similar reports have come in from schemes throughout the country.

Serious Questions

It is clearly time for some very serious questions to be asked about the policy changes that were put into place without the residents’ consent. Was any Risk Assessment carried out before these changes were imposed? How can it be that there are strict Health and Safety regulations controlling every industry in the country except the one that most directly impacts upon the well-being of elderly and vulnerable residents?

Effect on the Housing Market

The knock-on effects of the present shambles in “Sheltered” Housing have had a profound impact upon the housing market as well. When Sheltered Housing fulfilled its stated promise of providing an age-appropriate social life and assistance “with any emergency, large or small,” it offered a strong incentive for the elderly to downsize from properties that they could no longer manage.

Now that the word is out among the close-knit elderly community that “Sheltered” Housing no longer has anything to offer except isolation, loneliness, and fear, it is not regarded as a viable option any longer, and elderly people are choosing to remain in their own homes instead.

Having thus caused a major blockage in the flow of the housing market, the Government has now decided to punish those who fail to downsize by imposing a bedroom tax upon them. Would it not have been more sensible to keep the system working properly in the first place?

The Lynchpin Removed; The System Broken

Committed and caring wardens were the central lynchpin of Sheltered Housing, the critical primary-response presence who ensured the residents’ safety and well-being. Withdrawing the wardens has had just as devastating an effect on Sheltered Housing as the removal of the Matrons from the hospitals – a move that had to be reversed when the wards fell into a shambles of disorder.

When will the bureaucratic “think-tanks” actually do some thinking? When will they cast off their myopic “cost-cutting” blinkers and see that a happy, healthy society includes people of all ages? The elderly are not shirkers or pariahs; they should be honoured and respected for the lifelong contributions which they made to our society. Above all, they have an basic human right to live in security and peace of mind – which Sheltered Housing used to provide and should do again.
SMALL donation on your mobile phone: simply text 70070 and type in WISH17 with the amount you'd like to contribute. (Lots of small donations mean that LOTS of people care!) Or if you prefer,  by cheque to sheltered housing uk the little house marldon paignton devon Tq3 isl

Latest news from Devon and Lincolnshire

In Devon, the Western Morning News reported the unfortunate circumstances surrounding the death of Mrs. Carol Kelly of Gainsborough Court, Exeter, who was found by her sister after apparently lying dead on the floor for up to four days.

Mr. Ben Bradshaw, MP, said, “I am absolutely horrified by this death and the length of time it took to find Mrs. Kelly. I expect Guinness Care and Support to respond urgently to the concerns of the residents and explain why Mrs. Kelly was left lying dead in her flat for so long in sheltered accommodation and to address the residents’ concerns about what they see as a significant deterioration in the level of support provided.”

Meanwhile, in Lincolnshire, Mr. John Hayes, MP, pledged his full support for the residents of Lime Court, Spalding, who are threatened with cuts to their warden cover.

We urge both these MPs to join with their concerned colleagues in passing a Private Members Bill to ensure the establishment of a universal and enforceable Standard which will guarantee the security and well-being of all sheltered housing residents throughout the country.

Mission Accomplished!

Anne Ludlow and Robert Davidson outside the Houses of Parliament after their 250-mile cycle ride from Totnes.
The ride was perfect – unbelievably beautiful, and we never got rained on once!
Donations are still coming in, so the final total has not yet been tallied – it is over £1500 so far!

It can be done!

Warmest congratulations to the steadfast campaigners who fought – and won! – a four-year battle to retain their on-site wardens in Lincolnshire.

Article sent by Mr. Andrew Morrison, whose mother lives in Sheltered Housing:

In 2008 a meeting of residents of the sheltered housing scheme at Lammas Leas were told by the operations director of Acis, Mr.Paul Woollam, that the onsite wardens were to replaced by a form of floating support. Furthermore they were told the decision “was set in stone and they would be gone by the end of the year”. This news was met with despair by the residents and caused a great deal of unrest with the wardens themselves.

The residents rallied together and at a later meeting it was decided that this would not be accepted and a committee was set up to fight this decision. Representations were made to the residents at other schemes in Gainsborough, Saxilby, Caistor, Bardney and Middle Rasen.

Meetings were held in Churches and halls, with buses being used to bring in the concerned residents. Local clergy, doctors, concerned family members, local councillors and members of the various support services such as Aged Concern all added their voices to the horror at this proposal to dismantle a system that had served our communities well for nearly forty years.

Meetings were set up with officers at Lincolnshire County Council, with Mr. Tony McGinty playing an active part and being instrumental in keeping the dialogue going. Over the next four years numerous exchanges were made with the various councillors and presentations were made at council meetings.

The position of the residents was that warden based service was sound in that it has proved its worth over many years. It has enabled so many people to live in their own homes when, without that help and security, many people would have to be moved from sheltered care into a residential home – not only a dreadful position for someone in need of a little support and security but also a costly drain on the resources of the county when one looks at the bigger picture.

During our discussions it became clear that this valuable service could be utilised by others within the geographic area of the warden’s base. As the warden had to be sited somewhere, why not build the service from an area of known demand and expand the service into the community from that point? The opposing argument put by Acis was called floating support which, as the name implied, was the taking of the warden from a base of known users and servicing the service users from a place unknown, with all of the additional transport costs and wasted travelling time to reconcile, in addition to the loss of security that is one of the core assets that the onsite warden is able to give to the residents of Sheltered Housing.

The other major concern of the residents was that once the wardens were removed from the estates then the formal warden support system was irreversibly compromised with little or no safeguards being adequate to maintain the future integrity of this invaluable system.

Now nearly fours years later after a lot of heartache and worry, the residents are able to relax in the knowledge that the onsite wardens that they cherish and value to help them cope with the day to day issues of life are now considered a valuable asset which Lincolnshire County Council have no plans to change.

On behalf of the campaigners I would very much like to thank those members of Lincolnshire County Council and Town councillors who have supported our position. Finally, a big thank you to all those members within the community whose patience, hard work and commitment have never wavered during these last four years as they have battled for those within our community that we felt were being unjustly treated at a time in life when they are at the most vulnerable.