Warden fears more deaths if service is taken away

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An Angus-based warden fears there could be more deaths in sheltered housing complexes if the service is removed.

The warden, who has declined to be identified in print, believes the alternative could be emergency pull-cords responded to by Angus Council’s Community Alarm Response team which she claims takes much longer than the quick response of an in-house warden.

The council has held a consultation period with sheltered housing residents as it seeks to implement self-directed support. The proposals for a new model of housing for older people will now be considered by councillors on February 11.

However, the warden said this week: “It’s patently obvious that wardens should stay.

“How long does it take for call centres to send out emergency response teams after a pull-cord is activated? On average half an hour before the appropriate emergency service is called.

‘‘Though we rely on this service for weekends it has been known to take two hours for a resident to be reached if they need assistance.

“A warden can be there straight away. We give reassurance and put the residents and their families at ease.

“That’s the whole point of sheltered housing, it means they have independence but with support. This is, after all, their last home.”

Concerns were also expressed that if the warden service was reduced, there would be nobody to arrange social activities for the residents.

The warden added: “There is not always an able-bodied and enthusiastic person to arrange evenings or outings within sheltered housing and 90-year-olds cannot be expected to arrange social activities. Families may live far away and so you can’t rely on them either.”

At Blackfriars Court, Montrose, resident and campaigner Ted Smith said: “Loneliness is a big killer in the elderly, it’s the equivalent of smoking 15 cigarettes a day for your health. How many more will end up dying because of this?

“The wardens here are vital, they are like our family, and the lounges together with the wardens provide the only social life some of us have.

‘‘If we can’t get to the lounge on our own the warden is there to help us.”

A spokesperson for Angus Council said: “As the current universal provision of tenancy support services to sheltered housing tenants does not comply with the requirements of the recently introduced Self Directed Support legislation, the report seeks approval to explore the potential of a social enterprise with Voluntary Action Angus, to introduce a new preventative care service which tenants could use.

‘‘An expanded caretaker service and a four-year programme of investment in the communal facilities at each complex are also

proposed.”