Concerns for the elderly as warden faces axe

Shaftesbury Court, Northchurch
Shaftesbury Court, Northchurch

Elderly residents are set to lose their retirement scheme warden – unless they cough up an extra £17 a week.

People living at Shaftesbury Court in Northchurch – which is owned and run by Sanctuary Housing – currently have a warden who lives on site, but this could be a thing of the past thanks to cuts in government funding.

The alternative option is a 24-hour, 365 days a year phone ‘hotline’ at no additional cost, but some families fear this may not be enough.

A daughter of one of the residents, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “Everybody is absolutely devastated. Sanctuary are being very short-sighted about it all.

“The warden does daily checks and keeps an eye on everyone, so she’s able to tell family members when they visit if she thinks a resident is unwell.

“I know they have to save money, but this is an essential service. They have drama classes and knitting sessions, which although they are nice things to do, I know the residents would rather have a warden on site.

“They are vulnerable and the reason they live there is because they like having people around.

“I am very worried about them.”

Though the retirement living scheme on Valley Road is not a care home, several of the residents are believed to be well into their 80s and 90s.

A consultation meeting was held on December 14, but residents have to have their say by January 11.

Part of the presentation stated that if just one of the 50 residents could not stump up the extra £17.56 a week, then the scheme will automatically lose its warden.

There are 47 flats on the site, some of which house more than one resident, so if all the residents paid the extra cash each week this would amount to £913.12 per resident per year – and more than £40,000 a year for the whole scheme.

A spokesman for Sanctuary Housing confirmed the association has put aside around £1million to pay for the 24-hour hotline service, but was unable to clarify the grant figure that was being pulled.

They said: “We are running similar consultations at retirement schemes across the country because local authority funding known as Supporting People has been, or is in the process of being withdrawn in many areas.

“We are unable to make up for the full deficit, however we have agreed to cover the costs of the pull cord alarm system for our residents which connects them to an emergency contact centre 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and this should cost us about £1m annually.

“Local housing staff and tenancy support officers are able to provide some face to face support, and additional bespoke services are available, for example, through local homecare providers, and we are more than happy to discuss these options with residents individually.

“Also, please keep in mind that retirement schemes are very different from care homes and are for people who wish to live independently – they do not provide care.”