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South Holland District Council to introduce new services to sheltered housing schemes to stop ambulance call-outs

New services are being introduced to council-owned sheltered housing complexes to help people to live more independently – and reduce the need for ambulance call-outs.

South Holland District Council’s cabinet approved a number of changes which are aimed to prevent falls among tenants at its 33 sites by providing a response service to pull cord emergencies, a handman service and independent living officers.

A report to last week’s cabinet meeting highlighted that 116 ambulances were called out to sheltered housing complexes in the five months between April and September last year after a resident had pulled the emergency cord.

Coun Tracey Carter
Coun Tracey Carter

Coun Tracey Carter, Portfolio Holder for Communities and Operational Housing, told last Tuesday’s meeting that it was important to stop tenants standing on chairs to change a lightbulb and risk injuring themselves.

She said: “The introduction of independent living officers and a handy person service are seen as the missing elements.”

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The council’s current pull cord system takes around 2,000 calls a month – with a third being emergency calls.

A council review of the data showed that a total of 15 calls a month to the pull cord system result in an ambulance call out – with each call costing the NHS between £206 and £292.

The report to cabinet states: “Having access to a response service to help attend in non-emergency cases will reduce the spend in National Health, prevent and avoid hospital admissions, and ultimately the need for tenants to move.

“The introduction of a Response Service that will respond in an emergency for reassurance, non-injury falls when the tenants first and second contacts can’t attend is recommended.

“The number of call outs has been estimated to be approximately 15 per month, which will be closely monitored.

“The financial implication for this will amount to £29,000 a year, recoverable through service charges.”

The council is also going to introduce a new Independent Living Team, which will be made up of four officers, a senior co-ordinator and a handyman.

The report states: “Analysis of our current tenants showed that over half of them needed additional help or support due to a range of complex health or other issues, with a further 20% having medium to long term needs.

“Interrogating the data the alarm system produced highlighted the need to use this to help prevent tenants declining in needs.

“In addition, during both rounds of our consultation the need for a handyperson service came through very loudly. Some tenants spoke about not wanting to ask family just to come over to change a light bulb – or they forgot, and then would either try and walk in the dark or try to do it themselves – often resulting in falls

“Many spoke about getting frustrated as little tasks they used to be able to do they could no longer complete – and finding someone to help very difficult and open to risk. This then contributes to them being less independent.”

Along with the introduction of new officers, the council is also going to invest in new digitial notice boards and it has also undertaken improvements to the pull cord system, which is moving nationally from analogue to digital networks.

What do you think? Will the new services help? Post your thoughts in the comments below...

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