Tracey Carter

Upgrade for all sheltered housing

Sheltered housing in South Holland is set for changes after a review of the service.

The district council has 33 schemes with a total of 1,032 properties for tenants aged 55 or over.
A review was carried out after changes to current equipment would be needed as the pull cords will not work when the analogue telephone lines become digital.
“Service charges have been reviewed because of the recommended changes to identify the true cost of delivering the services required for tenants,” says a report to go before full council today (Thursday).
The district council scheme has one and two bedroom bungalows along with flatlets – two storey buildings with lift access. There are 14 community centres and 12 guest rooms for hire.
Plans for the future include employing two independent living officers and a handyman service, after consultation indicated they would be welcomed.
“Through an extensive consultation it’s also recognised current staffing levels for the sheltered housing does not enable the council to support the co-ordination of activities in the community centres and does not allow the time for more dedicated support of our tenants,” said portfolio holder Coun Tracey Carter.
“It is also acknowledged that minor repairs classed as odd-jobs are often left uncompleted.
“We want to avoid tenants standing on chairs to change a light bulb and risking harm to themselves,” she told a cabinet meeting earlier this month.
The report highlighted that from April to September last year, 116 ambulances were called for tenants falling. More than half were non-injury but the lack of emergency contacts meant an ambulance was sent.
A new response service, which makes contact with two named people before emergency services are contacted, has been introduced.
The budget for two independent officers is £144,900, with £48,600 for the service co-ordinator and £50,500, including a van and tools, for a handyperson.
The review also means the removal of communal TV aerials as tenants said they didn’t like them as they couldn’t get digital channels. If the host electric goes off, nobody has television available.
The consultation with residents also showed that more than half of them needed additional health or support due to arrange of complex health or other issues.
The need for a handyman was also indicated as some tenants spoke about not wanting to ask family to help, if they had family.
They were then trying to do it themselves, resulting in falls.
The enhanced service will see a rise in rent of around 88p a week for tenants.
“This enhanced service is funded by service charges. A comprehensive review provides transparency and value for money for our tenants,” added Coun Carter.
Digital noticeboards are also being introduced to improve communication.
The review also revealed that the current pull cord system has 2,000 calls a month. Of those, 15 result in an ambulance attending at a cost to the NHS of between £206 and £292.
It also showed that the stigma of sheltered housing is rooted in the past, lack of choice, poorly designed and isolated. New literature will be produced to overcome the misapprehensions.

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