Residents’ concern for safety at night in South Kesteven housing complexes

The sheltered housing complex in St Clement's, Stamford. Photo: MSMP210814-015am EMN-140821-111032001
The sheltered housing complex in St Clement's, Stamford. Photo: MSMP210814-015am EMN-140821-111032001

Elderly residents have repeated calls for a night response service to cover the loss of wardens at sheltered housing complexes.

The warden and night response service provided by South Kesteven District Council was dropped when Lincolnshire County Council brought in its new Wellbeing scheme in April.

While those who sign up to the scheme get a red button connected to a rapid response service, this is stationed in Long Bennington - at least half an hour away from Stamford, 40 minutes from Bourne and 50 minutes from the Deepings, providing traffic is moving.

As a result, some residents of sheltered housing complexes in South Kesteven have not signed up to the new service, fearing their needs will not be met.

The issue was highlighted last month when two people living at St Clement’s in Stamford died and were not discovered for at least a day. There is no evidence to suggest the deaths would have been avoided or the people would have been found earlier under the old system. But residents are becoming increasingly concerned as winter draws in.

John Butcher, who lives in Hillary Close and acts as a spokesman for complex residents, said the district council had previously stationed night responders in Stamford.

He said an 8pm to 8am service was needed to respond to emergencies, and that this should be stationed closer than Long Bennington.

Mr Butcher said in some cases responders had been held up by accidents on the A1 and had been forced to use long diversions.

“Our old night responders were located in the Stamford area at Essex Road,” said Mr Butcher. “They could get round the complexes at very short notice.

“A lot of accidents happen between 8pm and 8am. When people have been sat for two or three hours, then their circulation is not very active. If they start to feel dizzy, then down they go.”

Mr Butcher said he could understand the withdrawal of the wardens. But he added: “I can’t understand why they took the night responders away. That’s when people do fall down. The responders would get them back on their feet and back into bed.

“The residents are utterly bewildered.”

Mr Butcher said he had been trying to explain residents’ concerns to the county council for months.

“It’s getting nearer and nearer to Christmas,” he said. “This is when a lot of the frail are going to go down. They know it and we know it. The residents feel terribly let down.”

The county council’s assistant director for public health Teresa Roche said it was up to the district council to sort out a warden or night response service.

She added: “Wardens are not a county council service and we don’t have any control over this. The use of wardens are the responsibility of each landlord.

“The rapid response service is not an emergency call-out system but, as commissioners, we do regularly monitor its performance and expect our providers to continue meeting the response-time targets to support people.”

Executive councillor for adult social care Patricia Bradwell (Con) helped put together the council’s statement but declined to comment further.

The rapid response service is run by Age UK Lincoln on behalf of the Lincs Independent Living Partnership. The charity’s chief executive officer Michele Seddon said it was “too soon” to say why people were not joining the Wellbeing service.

She added: “In South Kesteven, 240 people have been referred to the Wellbeing service for assessments and 153 individuals have chosen to sign up for the rapid response Service.

“We continue to work closely with the district and county council to explain the Wellbeing service to people to see if it meets each person’s individual needs. However, alternative solutions may be more appropriate and the housing provider can also discuss these with individuals.”

Mrs Seddon said there was a two-hour limit on rapid response call-outs, and this limit had not yet been missed.

She added: “That said, it’s important to understand that the rapid response service is not a clinical one and in no way takes the place of ambulances, police and out of hours GPs in more serious scenarios.

“We are very proud of the dedicated service our responders are providing, with the best interests of our customers at heart.”

The Mercury understands that talks are ongoing between the district council and a care charity on a possible solution to residents’ concerns. More details are expected to be released in the coming 

The district council’s strategic director for community and environment Tracey Blackwell said: “We continue to liaise with the Wellbeing service and our sheltered housing officers are on site at each scheme every week to provide advice and a point of contact for our tenants.”