Elderly residents’ fears over housing services

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VULNERABLE people will be put at risk by cuts to a sheltered housing scheme, according to residents.

Residents at Towlers Court and Manor House Close, in Brandon, believe their service provider, Flagship Housing, has gone too far in reducing staffing and support services.

The changes – part of Flagship’s 1Future restructure which was implemented last Friday – include halving staff numbers, with full-time wardens down to 16 from 32.

This has meant that Claire Darkins, warden at Manor House Close for more than two years, has been relocated. Residents describe Ms Darkins as ‘irreplaceable’.

Concerns have now been raised that a reduction in staff will leave the home’s most vulnerable residents at risk.

Bill Thorpe, 73, a Manor House Close resident for eight years, said: “There are some vulnerable people that live here on their own. Claire used to go in and have a chat with them, but that won’t happen now.

“If there’s an emergency call I’m not sure anyone will be able to get out to them fast enough and someone will die one day because of it.”

Annette Meadows, 55, who lives at Manor House Close with husband Jim, 65, said the changes negated the point of sheltered housing.

“A lot of people have moved into sheltered housing purely because they know the support is there – now that is going,” she said.

Flagship say the changes are due to a near 50 per cent reduction in council funding.

Sally Hanlin, head of care and support, said: “Despite a reduced budget, Flagship will continue to provide support for people living independently during working hours.”

Wardens will cover the homes during the week, with a paid-for Telecare line operating out of hours. A contracted care agency will provide emergency response care.

A spokeswoman for Flagship said the service would be monitored over the next six months.

Cllr Colin Noble, Suffolk County Council portfolio holder for adult and community services, said service providers’ delivery would be reviewed in the coming months. He added that the providers had total autonomy in how they deliver the service.