WARDENS must never be cut from sheltered housing say older people who believe the service saves lives.

A council official was grilled during a tense meeting at Himbleton House, St John’s, Worcester, yesterday over the potential loss of the treasured warden service.

The presentation, by Laura Westwood, commissioning manager for Worcestershire County Council, was attended by about 40 residents from sheltered housing complexes across the city.

The meeting, one of a series on ‘Future Lives’ held across Worcester yesterday was about proposals to slash investment in supporting people from £15 million to £6.5 million, part of £98 million of cuts that must be made by 2017.

The cuts mean Worcester Community Housing, which runs the wardens, could lose the £630,000 county council grant.

Residents could also lose call alarms unless they are assessed by a social worker as needing one. 

Gloria Digger, aged 64, of Severn House, St John’s, called the loss of the wardens “euthanasia by the back door”.

Pat Martin, aged 66, of Himbleton House, who has chronic bronchitis and asthma, said she had received vital support since she attempted suicide.

She said: “Without the wardens we would not be who we are.

“Without the wardens I would not be here. This is an absolute farce.”

She said the wardens knew the problems of those living in sheltered accommodation and people felt able to confide in them.

Another woman, who declined to named, said the wardens helped her when she fell over and could not get back up.

She said: “Will I have to dial 999 for help to get up? What is the point in living longer when they don’t want to look after you?”

Kenneth Knight, aged 75, said: “I need the wardens. You won’t get any wardens in England better than these.”

Barbara Seers, aged 74, of Henwick House echoed the views of many that scrapping the warden service would end up costing more money, pushing people out of independent but supported living and into residential care.

She said: “It is a shortsighted proposal. So many more people will need full-time care in care homes that are coping very well with the warden support at the moment.

“This is going to cost the community God knows how much money. It is going to be a pathway to isolation and dependence, not independence.” 

Clive Coggan, aged 66, of Himbleton House, who has a pacemaker and kidney problems said: “If not for the wardens I would not be here.”

He said he had suffered between 20 and 25 falls and each time the wardens had helped him, calling an ambulance for him for him when he suffered chest pains and ended up in Worcestershire Royal Hospital for three weeks.

He said: “I pull the cord and they are there like a rocket.” 

Many said it was a return to the kind of care people could expect in the past with references made to the way people were treated in the 1920s and even the Victorian “workhouse”.

The final decision on the cuts is expected to be made in February by three cabinet members at Worcestershire County Council – Marcus Hart (health and wellbeing), Sheila Blagg (adult social care) and Liz Eyre (children, families).

Coun Sheila Blagg, the county council cabinet member for adult social care, said: “We have already received many comments from the public but feel it is important to also hold events so people can come and talk to use directly and raise their concerns.

“I would urge everyone to take part in this important consultation before January 21 and I assure you that all views will be listened to.”

For further informationvisit worcestershire.gov.uk/futurelives. Copies are also available in libraries and other public buildings.

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