Monday, 02 March 2015

Sheltered housing services face tougher regulation

Work has begun on drawing up a new European standard for sheltered housing services to improve their transparency.

The European Committee for Standardization, which develops voluntary standards in different sectors, argues that the term sheltered housing is not clearly defined by law and lacks regulation in some countries. The organisation has set up a new project committee to oversee the work.

The new standard will aim to improve transparency by setting out the minimum services that sheltered housing residents should be entitled to. It will also cover how service performance is defined and measured. It is expected to be drawn up by 2011 and form the basis for voluntary accreditation.

UK standards body BSI British Standards has set up a committee to scrutinise the development of the standard. Its members include representatives from the sheltered housing consortium Erosh, the Communities and Local Government department, the Audit Commission and the Department of Health, alongside Hanover Housing Group, the Chartered Institute of Housing, the Centre for Sheltered Housing Studies and the Elderly Accommodation Counsel.

The recently-formed tenants’ lobby group Sheltered Housing UK, which was set up to fight the removal of wardens, will also be on the committee. Its chair Vernon Yarker said his organisation’s involvement was important to prevent the committee being biased towards housing providers.

He said: ‘We want to try to stop them coming out with a porous statement which can be interpreted in the way that the housing provider wishes, such as “sheltered housing may or may not have a warden”.’

Readers' comments (14)

  • One correction - the Centre for Sheltered Housing Studies changed its name to CSHS several years ago.

    Three observations - firstly: many providers of sheltered housing stopped calling their support staff wardens many years ago and prefer to call their staff scheme managers (or Court Managers in the case of Housing 21) in recognition of the fact that the support staff in sheltered housing perform complex management roles that go beyond the good neighbour functions of old style wardens.

    Secondly: this initiative is not about extending regulation, it is about a voluntary standard that will, it is hoped, be applicable across the EU and will therefore have to reflect the diversity of provision in the countries of the EU.

    Thirdly: whatever standard is agreed will reflect the many forms of sheltered housing that exist in the UK and elsewhere. There has never been one single model of provision, as there has never been one model of provider. So those realities will have to be seen in the standard, which means that some sheltered housing has resident scheme managers; some schemes have their own manager who does not live on site; some scheme have managers responsible for several schemes; some have floating support; some have peripatetic support; some schemes operate as support hubs for all the older people in the area it is located; and other models I have yet to encounter. It is time that this myth of the one model of 'resident warden sheltered housing' has to be dispelled. there was sheltered housing with floating support years ago, just as other models exited years ago.

    This welcome initiative about standards should not be used as an opportunity to push a particular agenda otherwise providers will not participate.

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  • Will this concentrate purely on the care services or will it also cover/ have implications for the design and maintenence of the buildings themselves?

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  • Wardens in Sheltered Housing does not provide any added value to the quality of life of the residents. There is no way of measuring its effects on people's life, it is more of a psychological boost to promoting dependency rather than maintaining independence. with the development of Telecare and other peripherals available today, why on earth do people want to go back to resident wardens in schemes? What I believe should happen is to have a global look at the way services are provided for older people with a view of merging services together to meet the needs of this client group.

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  • Hello Steve. I think that you have missed the point entirely. ~The diversity , you speak of, is the result of a non-regulated system and is an absolute farce across the country ,and from town to town, and even from street to street and across the road and no developed country should have got itself into such a situation, it is a disgrace.
    The only people who benefit from such a chaotic mismanaged system are housing providers because it permits them generally to do exactly what they wish to do with no inconvenient regulations to prevent them from doing so. Indeed, there will be no need for CEN 385 if its intention is to confirm the chaos which already exists

    I am sorry I have no idea who CSHS are and how they laid claim to the wording of the Oxford dictionary, But:

    There are many names for Wardens and these are normally introduced by housing providers because a new title enables them to change job description and hours of attendance. However, as far as residents and the general public are concerned they are 'Wardens' and that is the name that is likely to stay with them to the end of time

    kind regards

    The Sheltered Housing UK Association

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  • WE live in an age where we are subjected to the mantra of choice and tenants being at the heart of decision-making, what happens in realty is tenants’ are sold by consultants (acting little better than snake oil salesmen)

    It’s a cost cutting exercise, at the expense of some of our most needy and elderly, and as such should be resisted by all who put care above cost.

    To be selling it, as an improvement is dishonest and underhand, and the more people that see it for what it is the better.

    Vernon Yarkey and others are fulfilling a very worthwhile roll by pointing out that the emperor as no clothes

    While the vast consultant road show sells the line to all who will listen, acting like a maker of invisible clothes, and local authorities up and down the land all agree what a lovely suit.

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  • Hello Bryan, I presume that your assertion that Wardens do not add to the quality of life in Sheltered Housing is researched with the residents ? I am now in receipt of 212 telephone calls and E-mails from residents many of those are representing residents from complete Sheltered schemes and even blocks of schemes , behind that they have the silent more elderly who are equally distressed but debarred by age and vulnerability from entering into a campaign, This web-site addresses thousands of residents of Sheltered Housing from Scotland to Portsmouth and Swansea to Essex. All, but one, are not in favour of retaining their wardens and all tell me how they rely , or used to rely, so much upon their Wardens.

    The residents mostly tell me that they would not have left their own homes and have moved into Sheltered Housing if they wished to live independently . What you believe, therefore, is irrelevant, it is what the residents want that counts.

    Incidentally I pay for my Warden in my service charges. What right have you got to tell me that I do not need her ?

    the Sheltered Housing UK Association

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  • Well said Norman that is exactly the position at the moment. The requirements of the residents of Sheltered Housing have remained constant and will continue to remain constant. The current practice is to ignore the requirement and use this denial to announce that it no longer exists !


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  • I am interested in your comments re Sheltered Housing; please could I pick your brains? Does anyone know is it a legal requirement to have a guest flat in a sheltered housing scheme?

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  • Correction to typo in response to Bryan (above) ..........Swansea to Essex. All, but one, is in favour is in favour of retaining their wardens .........

    The Sheltered Housing UK Association

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  • I would like to make some points of principle to consider in any debate on the future of sheltered or supported housing for older people:
    1. There are many different models of supported housing and different models suit different needs.
    2. There are many older people with different types of needs.
    3. The aspirations of one generation will not necessarily suit the aspirations of the next generation.
    4. Sheltered housing is a huge national and often undervalued and underutilised resource.
    5. We need to consider sheltered housing in terms of future needs, to meet the demands of a growing, ageing population.
    6. Sheltered and supported housing needs to be seen as a type of housing within a broader continuum ranging from independent living to intensive nursing care, including extra care housing.
    7. There needs to be better integration of housing, social care and health services if the holistic needs of older people are to be effectively met, and sheltered housing better positioned as a community resource.
    8. The introduction of telecare needs to be seen within the broader context of all support services.
    9. There is no panacea "right way" of doing things.
    10. Private sector sheltered and supported housing needs to be included in the review.

    These points are made in order to make a case for a broad approach to considering the future of sheltered and other forms of supported housing for older people.

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