Letter to Exmouth Journal for Thursday 28 July 2016
I was extremely concerned to read a highly misleading letter about East Devon District Council’s Home Safeguard service, which was published in last week’s Exmouth Journal.
Tenants of East Devon District Council’s Sheltered Housing are not being ‘bullied’ or ‘forced’ to cover the cost of an alarm system. In fact, they have the option to move to accommodation that does not offer alarm support as a standard service. If they do choose to move, then we will give them priority on Devon Home Choice, the county’s online housing choice based letting system, so that a move can be facilitated more swiftly.
The assertion that tenants did not have a clause in their tenancy agreement regarding Home Safeguard and Support until recently is incorrect, as applicants have for many years been required to complete a Supported Housing Needs assessment form to prove that they are in need of support before a sheltered home can be allocated to them.
In addition, all tenants of sheltered housing are required to complete an annual assessment of their support needs, so they can decide (with the assistance of a Mobile Support Officer) on the level and type of support they need. Tenants are not required to have officers visit their home if they do not wish to. The assertion that the council is ‘infantilising their elderly residents’ is frankly incorrect.
The financial assessment we offer is carried out by the tenant with an independent advisor so there is no question of them having to go through this with a Housing Officer and the financial help for those in genuine need is open ended and will continue for as long as they need it.
East Devon’s Housing Service is fully committed to supporting people and communities in order that they can sustain their tenancies and to help people live independently for longer. We have many messages from our tenants that support this.
For example, Mrs R at Budleigh Salterton would like to say a huge thank you to the operator who dealt with her call on 31 March, when her husband went into cardiac arrest. He actually ‘died’ at the scene and CPR had to be performed until paramedics arrived and restarted his heart, He spent six days in an induced coma and, having had a defibrillator fitted, is slowly recovering. Mrs R says that without this alarm her husband would not have survived and she is very grateful.
Another person, whose elderly parent is one of our tenants, has written to express her gratitude, saying: “I emailed at 6pm yesterday with a query about my Father’s Home Safeguard Alarm service. I got a reply from the operator later, which gave me the information I needed and which was followed up later by a second email with further information. I was very impressed with both the prompt reply and the pleasant tone of her emails and felt it deserved comment (having been dealing with a range of people/organisations regarding my parents’ needs), this has been a rare beacon of good practice.”
I believe it would be helpful if people could see exactly what the council’s charges are for our Home Safeguard and support services. Not forgetting the fact that for our sheltered housing tenants the service includes regular visits from a Mobile Support Officer (MSO). So here are the charges:
- Alarm charge £3.70 per week – this covers the costs of the alarm equipment, which is installed in all our sheltered properties, as well as monitoring and responding to calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
- Housing management charge £3.50 per week (Covered by housing benefit for those in receipt of full housing benefit) – The housing management charge is for tasks done by the MSOs which help support each tenancy and maintain the fabric of our property and the communal areas. This could include for example: accompanied visits for new lettings, advice about aids and adaptations or helping with reporting repairs and monitoring progress.
- Support charge £5.83 per week – this covers the personal service provided by our mobile support officers MSOs for issues not to do with a tenancy including, for example: the calls and visits by the MSO, motivating and helping to maintain self care and personal hygiene, assistance with wellbeing matters and encouraging physical health or advice on welfare benefits and supporting you to manage your finances (if required).
In addition, East Devon has 2,200 private clients who have the alarm plus pendant(s) (£4.53 weekly for one pendant plus alarm or £5.53 weekly if using two pendants plus alarm or £5.03 per week for alarm, pendant and smoke detector. Please note that this service has no mobile support officer.
Councillor Jill Elson, EDDC Cabinet Member for Sustainable Homes and Communities.