Monday, 24 August 2009

Sheltered Housing

On 20th August I posted about 'Supporting People' and the provision of Wardens - or Scheme Managers as they are sometimes called - and tonight Panorama had a programme on just this subject which can be viewed here courtesy of BBC iPlayer.

Having first hand knowledge of Sheltered Accommodation it can be safely said that Wardens/Scheme Managers are vital to an elderly persons 'quality of life'. A good Warden/Scheme Manager is not just someone who ensures the complex 'runs' properly, they become a friend/confidant/helper to these elderly residents - many of whom are disabled for one reason or another.

In the scheme with which I am closely associated, the present Warden arranges trips out for residents, some of which have no living relative, who are unable to go out on their own, who receive hardly any visitors. She, the Warden, arranges extra 'Tea Parties', arranges Fish & Chip suppers, presents every resident, on their birthday, with a card and cake. To most people events such as these are accepted as a 'norm', however to elderly residents they are a 'treat', provide cherished memories, ones that they talk about days, even weeks, afterwards. She helps with correspondence and, with the help of a Tenant Representative, resolves issues/problems with various branches of the social services.

These Wardens provide a service that money cannot buy - a service of which bureaucrats - and the public - much younger have had no experience. To those councils that are removing Wardens one can but ask whether they are not ashamed of devaluing the elderly's 'quality of life', whether they are not ashamed of how they are treating our elderly and whether they are not ashamed of themselves?

It is interesting that the Panorama programme confirmed one point raised in my earlier post; that the residents had not been properly consulted and the fact that a statement saying that 80plus per cent of residents had accepted the change was, in fact, far from the truth - as those questioned said, they tolerated it on the basis they felt they could not change it.

A plea to all UK readers of this blog - please lobby or write to your Member of Parliament and urge them to stop this unthinking, uncaring - nay odious - 'improvement programme' from being instigated.

One cannot but repeat a scene from the Panorama film in which one old chap explained to the interviewer that he was protesting for himself, but also the interviewer. When questioned by the interviewer 'Why me?' the old chap replied 'One day you will be old like me'.

Postscript: A week ago I e-mailed the Leader of Her Majesty's Official Opposition and the Shadow Secretary of State asking for their personal views and their Party's policy on this subject. Needless to say, to date, answer there is none and one would have thought that, albeit they are on holiday, if they have the time to give speeches and appear on television, they could have made time to respond to a query from a member of the public!

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