Wiltshire Publications

Issue 475 – Concern over proposed changes to warden service

Elderly residents have voiced concern that wardens and services could be cut in a bid to save money.

It follows a consultation between Selwood Housing Association and Selwood residents which was held last week to canvass opinion about a new strategy for sheltered housing which could be implemented by Wiltshire Council.
The strategy provided by the council could see a unified warden service across Wiltshire that may give 24 hour support to sheltered housing residents. However, the consultation has caused confusion and alarm among residents. David Jenkins, Wiltshire Councillor for Westbury North said, “The major review regarding the proposed warden service cuts have caused anger and alarm with some of the residents in Field Close and Bell Orchard
“I attend the monthly meetings at Bell Orchard and have spoken to some of the residents and I am very concerned about the way this issue has been handled. I have been told by a number of residents that the consultation forms were confusing and difficult to understand.
“Selwood Housing advised me the consultation period is over and the report is now with Wiltshire Council, but I believe residents deserve a further meeting with Selwood Housing and a senior officer from Wiltshire Unitary Council to explain the situation, before the cabinet meet on December 14th.
“Wiltshire Council’s rationale behind this consultation is to make the system for looking after disabled and elderly in the county more cost effective, but it’s the quality of life which is important.”
Wiltshire Council deputy leader and cabinet member for adult care, communities and libraries, cllr John Thomson said,“The consultation is still preliminary. As Selwood has over 3,000 residents we decided to let the group run the consultation.
“We want to provide the warden service in the most cost efficient and beneficial way possible. A lot of the elderly find it hard to get out of bed to answer the door to the warden.
“A service we shall look to utilise, under a unified warden programme, is to set up a telecare button. Residents can push this button to sound off that they are fine. If the button is not pressed, then an automated signal shall be sent to the central office which shall be relayed to the warden who can then check on the individual.
“What we have concluded is that residents do not want to be disturbed. Currently they may be visited by up to four different carers a day. By reducing the service to one carer and spreading the remaining carers over Wiltshire, we can offer higher quality support in larger quantities.
“This new approach to health care will see a unified cost across the county. At the moment to provide this support, some areas are paying £25 while others are paying around £15. We want to unify this price across Wiltshire in the most cost effective way. We will look to price compare across the county to ensure that a fair price is agreed upon.
“There is over £160m a year in social care for Wiltshire. We are not looking to cut this cost but make the money go as far as possible. Those within sheltered housing are living 4% longer – this is great news but there is a cost implication.
“Wiltshire Council will make sure that we are not overcharging residents and that proper cover can be had. We want to give a better service for the residents and a more efficient way of running the sheltered housing scheme. Currently a warden may do some shopping or change a light bulb, but now-a-days more support is needed and we aim to give this support in the most cost effective way possible.”
A spokesman for Wiltshire Council said, “The consultation which took place from the 8th to the 12th of November was a result of a canvassing of opinion during the summer. We offered a consultation period for sheltered housing residents to see what they want from a warden service and what they got out of the service.
“The response we were met with showed that the residents want a warden service and should not have to pay for it.
“From here we negotiated with the housing association to provide a further questionnaire about what service residents want. We offered four options; • no warden service • continue the service with no financial support from the council, (it would be the choice of Selwood whether or not they choose to fund residents and with the current financial deficit, could see residents have no funding at all) • prices, continue with money from the council, which is currently how Selwood operates • Replace the existing service with an integrated service with money from the council, where all residents will have a central point of contact for the warden services.
“The meetings held two weeks ago served the purpose of explaining these options and any possible benefits.”
Wiltshire Council explain that there will be little change for those who need support services. “Residents who require a warden and support service will not be neglected. The consultations are not about the loss of a service, but implementing change that will help with efficiency.”