Stopping visits a “gut punch” for the elderly
East Riding Council has carried out a £223,000 upgrade of Lifeline warning systems installed in homes across the area, and says they can now be remotely tested. Concerns have been raised about the impact on elderly people, especially those on their own, some of whom will lose their only social contact.
The council says those affected have been directed to Age UK, which runs a befriending service. It has launched a four-week consultation, and says because of vacancies, job losses will be the equivalent of two full-time jobs.
Campaigner Mick Pilling, who lives on the Pasture Lane estate in Bridlington, and got his monthly visit from a warden yesterday, said: “The wardens also checked smoke alarms and saw if people were alright. The lady next door has MS and she’s frightened to death there will be a fire at home. This is a gut punch for every person on this system. The lifeline we believe is the actual physical contact of people coming to their home. It’s all money-orientated now, it’s all about how much can we save and how many jobs can we get rid of - this is today’s Britain.”
The council says night-time standby cover will be replaced by a fully-staffed awake service between 10pm and 6am, seven days a week. The move will save £300,000.
Head of business management Lauraine Walker stressed the changes would not affect those in sheltered accommodation. She said: “We need to ensure that the services the council offer are fit for the future, are what people want, that the meet people’s needs and that we have the right staff available at the right times to deliver the service.” The council says increasing pressure on budgets from a growing ageing population means services need to be efficient - and cost a similar amount to the independent sector.