Safety fears over new rota plan for supported housing

Elderly care home residents
Elderly care home residents

Old folk fear their safety could be put at risk and that there will be more ‘mishaps’ under new proposed changes at supported housing complexes.

Dacorum Borough Council plans to rotate officers, who are tasked with giving residents the extra help they need, between sites to ‘share best practice’.

But veteran Tom Payne, who lives at Elizabeth House in Hemel Hempstead’s Old Town, believes it could lead to more accidents and emergencies because officers will be unfamiliar with the specific needs of residents.

He also fears that the changes could cause dementia patients to become unnecessarily upset and confused.

Mr Payne said: “Unless they are very careful, they are going to have one or two more mishaps on their hands and that is a tragedy. I understand why they are doing it, they are trying to give sheltered housing officers more experience, but that is at the expense of the residents.”

Four years ago warden cover at sheltered housing was cut back under money-saving measures.

It meant that the schemes, which at that time each had a dedicated full-time warden, had to share officers between sites and cover was cut to 
office hours.

Mr Payne, who will turn 90 in December, said: “Nine-to-five is the hours now and they’re not here everyday. I think that will get worse because if they circulate the officers they will have to spend more time with some of the residents to get to know them.

“I don’t think the council has given enough thought to the medical side of the problem with the elderly.

“Dementia is something that we have to all face and in this building alone there are at least two or three who are going that way.

“We had a fellow here who was found crying in the cupboard downstairs. He had got lost in his own building.”

Council group manager of tenants Andy Vincent said: “We are currently consulting with our sheltered residents on proposals to move our supported housing officers from their current sheltered schemes to new ones within the geographical area of the borough in which they work. This is a quite a change for residents, many of whom have built strong ties with their current supported housing officer.

“The reason we are putting this proposal to residents is that we want best practice among our officers to be shared. We also want to ensure that relationships between staff and residents remain professional and are not allowed to become overly familiar.”

The consultation ends on November 5.