Elderly are to lose their daily warden visits

Geraldine Whitmore, Olive and Gordon Arnold, Michael Smith and Ida Kind campaigned last year against warden cuts.
Geraldine Whitmore, Olive and Gordon Arnold, Michael Smith and Ida Kind campaigned last year against warden cuts.
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Vulnerable elderly people living in South Holland’s sheltered housing complexes will lose lifeline, daily visits from wardens at the end of this month.

Lincolnshire County Council has withdrawn the cash from the current Supporting People Service – which the district council runs on its behalf.

The county is now funding its own brand new Wellbeing Service, available to people in private as well as council properties, and the district is launching an Intensive Landlord Service for residents of sheltered housing complexes.

Eight local warden posts have been axed, but there are 12 people in the district’s sheltered housing team and residents can meet them at community centres at set times or phone for an appointment.

Spalding pensioner Michael Smith (73), who campaigned to keep the warden service, say the two schemes won’t give residents the same protection or peace of mind.

He said there are frail, elderly people in their 80s and 90s whose families live miles away and there will be no wardens looking in on them each day.

And if residents fall at home, haven’t got the emergency Lifeline neck cord and can’t reach a room pull cord, they could be there for days.

Mr Smith said: “If the county council say they care about the elderly, and they want to look after them, why have we gone down this road?

“Why is it there’s been no money set aside to ensure that the warden service carries on and that we are all looked after?

“We’ve been asked to call on our neighbours to see if they are okay if we haven’t seen them for a couple of days – but that person could have been on the floor, having had a stroke or a fall, for 24 hours or more.

“Nobody would know.”

Age UK, the charity for the elderly, say a “catastrophic” situation is developing in England nationally with many vulnerable people being denied care.

Its latest analysis says the proportion of over 65s getting help has fallen by a third since 2005-6.

Liz Walmsley, the Spalding Age UK general manager, says there has been a definite decline in services for the elderly in Lincolnshire and the loss of the warden service will hit people hard.

She said: “It’s going to be a big shock for some people because I don’t think they have taken on board they are not going to have that friendly face at the door.”

Better meets needs - claim

Lincolnshire County Council claims its Wellbeing Service “better meets people’s needs” and will help people live safely and independently in their own homes.

The county’s head of service for adult care, Ruth Cumbers, said: “It’s been designed to keep people safe in their own homes and will include things like minor home adaptations such as grab rails, along with Telecare equipment and monitoring.

“We do not provide wardens although some service providers currently use wardens to provide the support services we fund.

“The support we paid the wardens to give will still be provided by the new Wellbeing Service and through different providers.

“It may mean that support is given in different forms and will also include a 24/7 emergency response service.

“The new service is open to everyone who needs it, not just those in sheltered accommodation.”

Included in the service are:

• Assessment – checking someone’s needs and “their surrounding support networks”

• Generic support – help for a period to enable someone to remain independent at home

• Installing equipment – aids to daily living like Telecare and minor adaptations such as grab rails

• Wellbeing telephone calls – these could be on a daily basis

• 24/7 rapid response – where staff go out to an individual’s home when an alarm has been activated

The Wellbeing is available to anyone aged 18 or over, not just the elderly.

Users will have to pay for some services, including the installation of living aids, but those eligible to have an adult care service will get their equipment free.

The district council’s Intensive Landlord Service will run completely separately and solely for occupiers of sheltered housing. Sheltered housing officers will visit each scheme twice a week or by arrangement in people’s homes.