Concern remains over Bute sheltered housing plans

PEOPLE living in two sheltered housing complexes in Rothesay are still concerned about what the future holds as their landlord presses ahead with plans to change to a ‘retirement housing service’.

Residents at Rothesay Court and Foley Court received booklets from Bield Housing Association in July telling them that aspects of their service were to change.

Managers from Bield have held meetings to try and explain the plans in more detail – but if the reaction at a meeting at Rothesay Court is a guide, the association still has work to do to convince tenants of the merits of the change.

Tenants and their families said Bield was “abandoning residents” and complained they had not signed up for a ‘retirement housing service’.

Other complaints included a lack of consultation over the changes and a perceived attempt to implement a ‘one size fits all’ solution.

A spokesperson from Bield told The Buteman: “The care sector in Scotland, and in the way we look after our older people, is changing.

“Older people are living longer, and want to remain in their own homes and receive personalised care and support to enable them to live in the community longer.

“As part of this emerging trend, local authorities such as Argyll and Bute are changing their approach to funding services for older people such as the housing support provided in sheltered housing.

“They are increasingly moving away from funding these services because of public sector cutbacks and focusing more on people with higher levels of need.

“Changing to a ‘retirement housing’ model will allow Bield to move away from the previous ‘one size fits all’ approach to give our tenants a service tailored to meet their specific support needs long into the future.

“We have sought to carry out extensive consultation with a range of groups, including our influential tenant partnership forum, and discussed and agreed the approach with Argyll and Bute Council.

“While it was impossible to discuss the changes in detail with each development, we are committed to holding local information sessions prior to and throughout the change to ensure we take into account views of tenants.

“The meeting held at Rothesay Court was part of our commitment to ensure no changes will happen until we have met tenants to fully explain the changes and to allow them to provide comment.

“Prior to this, we had issued all tenants with a booklet providing a comprehensive explanation on the changes.

“Where individual tenants require additional care support, we will work with them and Argyll and Bute Council to ensure the service is personalised to meet their own needs.

“It is our aim to ensure no one will be left without a service that they need or want.

“Specifically we are continuing to identify personalised solutions for those small number of tenants who wish to still have some form of ‘morning call-up’, although as a minimum all tenants will have access to emergency support from our 24/7 community alarm service, Bield Response 24.

“Locally-based staff will continue to work at the developments for at least five days a week, although we are seeking to extend this to a full seven-day cover.

“In addition, we are working to enhance our highly praised volunteer network to continue to deliver a range of social activities.

“We would refute any suggestions that Bield is abandoning tenants.

“We believe the move to retirement housing allows Bield to continue to provide comfortable, secure homes long into the future, where people of all ages are respected, can make their own choices and are able to lead independent and fulfilling lives.”