Sheltered Housing – the end of an era?

Reading the report going to Cabinet Committee

I was struck by the numbers of responses. Clearly this issue has been taken up by residents, relatives, providers and the community. The question of whether services are being targeted to those in need was lost when the proposal was presented as a budget cut.

What we can see in the report is the strength of feeling about the proposal. I have copied a section near the end of the Council report which details the concerns. Reading them it is hard to see how they could be disregarded. Residents are afraid and it is not clear from the report how this fear is going to be addressed.

The Main Issues and Concerns Raised 

Loss of Scheme Manager Service

  • Security
  • Safety
  • Having to rely on alarm service
  • Community and social life
  • Individual emotional support and pastoral care
  • Loss of Scheme Managers knowledge of residents and their situations
  • Support planning
  • Health emergencies
  • Disabled, older or frail residents need consistent support by someone they know and trust
  • No monitoring or preventative work carried out
  • Maintenance and repairs – support in reporting/chasing up/allowing access
  • Practical problems – lost keys, residents stuck in lifts etc
  • Health and safety issues
  • Liaising with and monitoring other services
  • Will lead to strain on residents if younger/fitter have to help others, inappropriate as not trained 

Floating Support

  • Lack of operational detail, unconvinced it will work
  • Inappropriate – adds to security concerns
  • No social or community aspect – isolation will increase
  • Difficulty accessing by phone
  • Cannot cope with high levels of need/chronic conditions/dementia
  • Is the funding enough to cover all needs?

Alarm Service  

  • What will happen about communal areas if assessed individually?
  • Cannot respond as promptly as on site staff
  • Slow response

No longer Sheltered Housing

  • Younger people moving in
  • Potential for ASB and other crime – less secure and easily identified as scheme housing some vulnerable older people

Effect on Other Services

  • Increased demand so longer waiting times and higher costs
  • More bed blocking and demand for residential and nursing homes

Longer Term

  • Planned move into sheltered as long term solution, needs will not be met
  • Older people in community will have no incentive to give up larger properties
  • Funding for Floating support being cut

Reasons for and Context of Residents Views
Many of the reasons for and justifications of residents’ views are reflected elsewhere in the report but can be summarised as follows.

  • Sheltered housing currently provides a cost effective service that is highly valued, the proposals would effectively end that.
  • The security and safety of a vulnerable group will be compromised.
  • The assessment process meant the vast majority of residents had identified support needs when they entered sheltered housing, these have not reduced but rather have grown so sheltered housing is sustaining the oldest and frailest people partly as a result of this, there is no evidence the support is not wanted or needed.
  • Sheltered housing meets both general and specific needs e.g. language, cultural and religious, disability and ill health.
  • Staff have invaluable knowledge of residents and are trusted by them, cannot be replicated by Floating Support.
  • Many examples of a responsive on site service assisting promptly with illness, falls and other emergencies whereas delays were anticipated re alarm service response.
  • The preventative role will be lost, the social and community life will suffer and this is often important in maintaining health and well being. Daily checks help pick up signs of ill health or deterioration that residents themselves may not be aware of.
  • Services can be delivered/monitored effectively as there is a concentration of older people
  • Lack of evidence that Floating Support works, those whose needs are too great currently referred by Floating Support to sheltered housing
  • Independence can be maintained with low level but consistent support and prevents the use of more expensive residential care
  • Reasonable expectations and contractual obligations to continue the service will be broken. This point was emphasised by residents who had freed up large accommodation to move into sheltered accommodation for support.

Despite the attempts of the report to try to address some of the concerns rasied in the consultation it is clear from above that residents/relatives don’t believe it will deliver.

When a report has been published it usually means the decision has been made and it is a rubber stamp exercise.


Residents/relatives will be attending the Cabinet Committee, maybe …just maybe members of Cabinet may reconsider. It would be a revelation…….never happened before…… but when politicians ask the community for their view …sometimes…they hold up their hands and recognise they got it wrong……..could this happen on Monday night?

Will Barnet be the first?