"MILTON KEYNES COUNCIL"
Annex 2 MILTON KEYNES COUNCIL THE COUNCIL’S SHELTERED HOUSING AND COMMUNITY ALARM SERVICE 1. Introduction This paper should be read as in conjunction with Milton Keynes Council’s Older People’s Housing Strategy – Sept. 2005. Milton Keynes Council has developed the following vision for its sheltered housing and community alarm service: The Council will provide affordable and secure housing for older people. It will be good quality accommodation, with flexible and responsive housing support available to those who need it. The service will seek to promote people’s independence and support them to live in their own home for as long as possible. The Council’s sheltered housing service is a vital part of the fabric of housing and social provision for older people in Milton Keynes. This paper seeks to set out a plan for the Council’s sheltered housing service and related services for the next five years. The sheltered housing service contributes in a major way to three of the Council’s corporate priorities. These are: Giving older people the help they need to keep their independence Providing affordable housing for those in need Creating social inclusion 2. Milton Keynes Council sheltered housing service The Council’s sheltered housing consists of two core services, housing and housing support, which are brought together in one service. Sheltered housing is primarily for older people, the normal age of entry being 60 years or over, although disabled people with particular care needs aged 55 or over are considered on an individual basis. Council sheltered housing provides affordable council housing, primarily one-bedroom flats, but sometimes two-bedroom flats and sometimes bedsit flats, in a collective setting where there are some communal facilities for tenants. Usually there is a communal lounge and sometimes facilities for communal meals etc. There are 954 sheltered housing properties spread over 31 schemes across Milton Keynes. In addition there is the community alarm services connected to over 5000 vulnerable older people in MK. The Sept 05 1 Annex 2 sheltered housing represents about 8% of the Council’s housing stock, and provides housing and housing support to over 5% of older people in Milton Keynes. Support for tenants is provided by the wardens. In most sheltered housing schemes the wardens are resident, working from 9.00 a.m. to 5.15 p.m. Monday to Friday, providing daily contact with each tenant and advice, support and help with such things as budgeting, paying bills, organising repairs, advice and information, emotional support, contacting professionals and liaising with relatives (see appendix 1). Wardens also arrange or support some activities to tenants within schemes. In addition to the 31 sheltered housing schemes, the sheltered housing service also provides support to council housing bungalows, often located near to schemes, where tenants receive the community alarm service and support from visiting wardens, but not the same level of support as within a sheltered housing scheme. This is usually a weekly visit. There are 1800 bungalows supported by the sheltered housing service. 3. The Community alarm service The community alarm service provides 24-hour, seven-day a week response service for all residents of sheltered housing and council older people’s bungalows, and for any other vulnerable person who might require the service in Milton Keynes. This includes owner- occupiers who are frail or disabled, people at risk of domestic or racial violence, younger disabled people and other vulnerable people. The community alarm service provides a mobile warden service that aims to call upon any person in need within 20 minutes of an alarm call. The mobile warden service is available 24-hours a day, 7 days a week. In addition to this service there is a daytime visiting warden service, which will visit non-sheltered housing tenants on a weekly or bi-weekly basis to provide advice and housing support. The community alarm service is equipped with state of the art telephone and electronic equipment, which allows it to provide a “telecare” monitoring service. Telecare is a system of actively monitoring vulnerable people in terms of room temperature, movement, going outside etc., or other measures that might indicate they are at risk. Telemedicine can be used to monitor health conditions such as blood pressure. Whereas a normal community alarm service provides a response to a call made by a tenant, telecare systems allow the community alarm control operator to respond to signals that an older person may be in need or in distress, even when they are unable to call for help themselves. Such systems Sept 05 2 Annex 2 are useful for those who might not be able to make use of community alarm service, such as people with dementia or other conditions. The Council’s sheltered housing accommodates 5% of older people in Milton Keynes, while the community alarm service is connected to another 15%. These services work closely with the home care service and other aspects of adult social care to provide comprehensive support and to promote the independence of frail older people in Milton Keynes. 4. The changing context of sheltered housing Traditionally council sheltered housing across the country has been funded as part of the housing landlord service through the housing revenue account (HRA). The HRA is a system whereby the pooled rents of all tenants go to pay for the combined housing service with the income from rents balancing the expenditure on the service. In many local authorities the whole tenant population funded sheltered housing from their rents. In the late 1990’s the government decided to stop using housing benefit to pay for housing support services such as a warden service and community alarm service in sheltered housing. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) established from April 2003 a Supporting People grant for each local authority to fund all the housing support taking place within that authority. As a consequence, in Milton Keynes as elsewhere, the bulk of the sheltered housing and community alarm service became funded by Supporting People grant. The change of funding to Supporting People grant has meant that the funding of the sheltered housing and community alarm service has been capped, i.e. there is no growth available year on year, because the ODPM is reducing Supporting People grant by about 5% a year to local authorities. In addition, since April 2003 any older person entering Council sheltered housing who is not entitled to housing benefit, has to pay a charge, currently £18 a week, for housing support. Over time more and more people will be liable to pay this charge. As a result it is expected that people will only to choose to move into the Council’s sheltered housing stock where they are frailer and more in need of sheltered housing. The consequence of this is that voids are likely to gradually increase and the sheltered housing population is likely to become frailer over time. Indeed, these trends are already evident. The average age of people living in sheltered housing has risen steadily over the last 20 years: in 1986 it was 75 years of age; in 1996 it was 78; and in 2005 it is 84 years of age. In the light of these changes in national arrangements and demographic patterns, the Council needs to have in place a clear strategy for its own sheltered housing service. As part of this process, Sept 05 3 Annex 2 the Audit Commission carried out a voluntary review of the sheltered housing and community alarm service in November 2004. The key messages from that review were: The Council provides a good quality sheltered housing and community alarm service and staff are well supported in carrying out their duties There is recognition of the need to make better use of sheltered housing schemes, but there is not a coherent vision of what the Council wants to achieve The service faces increasing pressures from reductions in Supporting People funding and a potential over-supply of sheltered housing Sheltered housing schemes are not maintained to a consistently high standard The sheltered housing service is provided on the basis of a traditional model that does not fully reflect the needs for more flexible support for older people The report made a number of recommendations, the first of which was to “develop a clear vision and long term plan for sheltered housing”. This strategy has been produced in response to that recommendation. 5. Other Sheltered Housing in Milton Keynes There are other providers of sheltered housing in the borough – 13 housing association schemes with 414 properties, and 22 private housing schemes with 551 properties. Thus over 10% of older people in MK live in sheltered housing. The housing association schemes are funded through supporting people grant and charges. The private schemes are funded through service charges, with occupants often buying a property in the scheme. The Council is working with the Extracare charitable trust to develop an Extracare village in Milton Keynes, with 258 properties of which 100 will be for social rent. The village will have a host of recreational activities and a care team that will provide care to 110 residents. The aim is to be able to provide care, even to those with high needs, until the end of life. The older people population in MK is growing by about 3% a year, and both national policy and the choices of older people support a trend away from residential care towards forms of sheltered housing. Therefore there continues to be a role for Council sheltered housing within the wider sheltered housing market, but the Council needs to ensure that the service continues to change and develop to meet the needs and higher expectations of older people in the borough and that Sept 05 4 Annex 2 it continues to fit with the spectrum of sheltered housing provision in place and being developed in Milton Keynes. 6. The Council’s vision for its sheltered housing and community alarm service The following vision statement has been developed for the Council’s sheltered housing and community alarm service. The Council will provide affordable and secure housing for older people. It will be good quality accommodation, with flexible and responsive housing support available to those who need it. The service will seek to promote people’s independence and support them to live in their own home for as long as possible. This vision covers both the housing provision itself (the bricks and mortar) and the housing support service (the wardens and alarm service). To achieve this vision, we need to adopt principles for the service and a clear plan for how the service needs in develop in response to older people. The following principles are suggested: Council sheltered housing will support a ‘balanced’ community. The criteria will not restrict fairly able older people from entering sheltered housing, but it will also cater for those with significant housing, social care and health needs Sheltered housing will, as far as possible, offer all tenants a home for life, ensuring that health and social care services are available to support tenants until the end of life People with very high needs will not move into sheltered housing unless a detailed care plan has been developed and sufficient care support is available to meet their needs Housing support and community alarm will be available to all older people who need these, throughout the Borough, regardless of tenure Sheltered housing has an important role in promoting healthy lifestyles, social inclusion and well-being through the housing support service Sheltered housing will seek to meet the needs of all older people, but will also seek to meet the needs of specific groups, such as those from a minority ethnic community or those with a particular disability, where there is a demonstrated need for such groups to have separate provision Sept 05 5 Annex 2 The sheltered housing service will work closely with the council’s adult social care service and the council/PCT intermediate care services to meet the needs of older people in the most seamless way The housing stock and the housing support service will be provided in the most cost effective way, so that older people get the most benefit from the resources available Tenants and other users of the council’s sheltered housing and community alarm service will be fully consulted in all service developments, in agreeing service standards and in providing regular quality feedback 7. The way forward The sheltered housing service has, over the last five years, developed several innovative services in partnership with health and social care, notably the extra-care housing scheme, Kilkenny House at Westcroft, and 13 intermediate care flats at Orchard House, Wolverton. The community alarm service is currently developing assistive technology (telecare) in order to support people with long-term health needs. The service supports several Age Concern lunch clubs within its schemes. Overall the service supports in some way over 20% of older people in the borough. Despite these successes, the service needs to respond to the challenges facing it: the year on year reduction in supported people funding; the few older schemes which have hard-to-let, mainly bed-sit style accommodation; the large amount of resource tied up in a traditional housing support service in the sheltered schemes; the limited resource available to older people living in other settings; the development of the extra-care village offering more modern accommodation and a wider range of housing support services. In order to respond to these challenges and to create a service able to deliver the vision, the following areas of work will be undertaken this year: From stock condition surveys, produce an asset management plan for sheltered housing, setting out the work needed on each scheme to bring it up to an agreed standard over 5 years Develop and consult on a set of standards for council sheltered housing, including flat sizes, upkeep of communal areas and accessibility for disabled people Review the way the supported housing service is provided, both to tenants and to community alarm users, in order to increase Sept 05 6 Annex 2 the range of service on offer to all and to provide more flexibility and choice Develop a range of well being services (fitness classes, health advice, adult education) available not only to scheme residents, but also to older people living in the vicinity of a scheme, so that the service provides a resource to all local people Identify any schemes which are not fit for purpose and, in consultation with tenants, develop better options for the use of those scheme and improved accommodation choices for those tenants Develop telecare schemes to enable older people with long-term illness to receive housing support, and health and social care services in their own homes Carry out an equalities audit of the whole service and from this develop actions to make the service more available to under- represented groups 8. Conclusion Milton Keynes Council has a sheltered housing and community alarm service that it can be proud of. The service has been innovative and has worked in partnership to develop new schemes and services. However, the advent of supporting people funding, the changing expectations of older people and the development of new forms of sheltered housing and housing support such as the extra-care village, are challenges that all local authority sheltered housing services now have to face. This strategy seeks to give a clear way forward for the Council’s service for the next five years, setting out a vision, a set of principles, and some necessary areas of work. By carrying out this work in the next year, the sheltered housing and community alarm service will be of better quality, more responsive to the needs of older people, and able to meet the challenges of the future. Sept 05 7 Annex 2 Appendix 1 WARDEN DUTIES The role of the warden is to provide an effective Sheltered Housing Service to tenants and to develop and promote the Sheltered Housing scheme into a community resource for all older people. Hours of Work Monday – Friday 09.00 to 17.15. (Wardens are entitled to start work an hour earlier/later than this thus finishing earlier/later). There is an entitlement of one hour for lunch each day. There is no requirement to work on bank holidays, weekends or evenings. Key Tasks Provide a daily, morning visit to each tenant to monitor his or her overall well being. The visit may result in the need to assist in accessing or providing information on a number of different services. For example: Calling a doctor Referral for social care, Home Care, Social Worker. Assisting a tenant who is in distress, confused or angry. Help with benefits, rent, council tax and general finance advice. Liaison with relatives. Promoting Tenants’ Independence Wardens must encourage tenants to maintain their independence as far and for as long as possible. Wardens actively encourage tenants to organise social activities and encourage older people in the local community to join in the activities. Wardens are not required to do social activities in the evening or at weekends but some may do this and then take time back later on that week. Short term Tenant Support Wardens are required to give additional support to tenants who are temporarily indisposed; this is strictly on a short term or emergency basis. Essential Information Wardens must ensure that they obtain Next of Kin details from all tenants, and keep them updated on an annual basis, and pass this information through to Central Control. They will also assist tenants in the completion of their Support Plan. Emergency Response Wardens are required to give a response to all calls on the Community Alarm system from their tenants when on duty. When the warden is off duty all calls go through to the Community Alarm Centre. The warden will respond to any emergency calls received between 7am – 9am Monday to Friday, at all other times the Control Centre will respond and the Mobile Warden will attend if required. Sept 05 8 Annex 2 Outside Visits Wardens will have a number of older people to visit weekly in their local community. During this visit they will test the community alarm equipment and provide advice and assistance on housing and social care issues. As well as encouraging these tenants to join in any scheme social activities. Wardens will also from time to time provide cover in other schemes and attend meetings and training sessions. The Building The warden is responsible for: The security, health and safety issues and fire safety of all the communal areas Reporting repairs to housing maintenance for all communal areas Weekly testing of the community alarm and fire alarm systems, emergency lighting, door entry system and lifts Supervising contractors, cleaning, landscape, repairs, and window cleaners Monitoring refuse collection, special collection. Arranging for paths to be gritted when necessary. Estate Management Wardens will liase with the area estate manager on housing issues e.g.: Voids and re-letting of properties Accompanied viewing with prospective new tenants This is intended as a guide only and is not an exhaustive list. April 2005 Sept 05 9