Council chiefs have announced they will axe wardens at sheltered housing across Derbyshire – sparking fears about the safety of elderly and disabled residents.
Cash-strapped Derbyshire County Council will get rid of the wardens at the end of March next year.
A total of 1,139 pensioners currently receive a warden service at countywide sheltered accommodations overseen by district and borough councils and housing associations.
Caroline Ingleton, a carer at Markham Court in Duckmanton, said the facility’s current daily warden service will be replaced by a single visit a week.
She said: “Wardens can be the difference between life and death.
“This terrible news will be detrimental to our residents.
“We’ve got people who suffer from dementia and these wardens are a familiar face who help them in all sorts of ways.
“Just to illustrate how important they are, a warden called out a doctor for one of our residents who didn’t feel well recently.
“He was taken to hospital where he was told he had a potentially life-threatening blood clot and received very important treatment.
“If it hadn’t been for the warden, the chap might not be here right now.
“There’s a lot of fear and anxiety at Markham Court following on from this announcement.”
The county council needs to save £157million by 2018 as a result of Government cuts.
Caroline added: “The council needs to rethink this decision.
“The should be looking to save money by making cuts in other areas – not targeting society’s most vulnerable.”
Councillor Paul Smith, the county council’s cabinet member for adult social care, said: “The authority considered cutting its funding to warden services in August 2014. However, after a 14-week consultation and extensive discussions with service providers and users, it was agreed to extend the contracts and continue the funding for a further 12 months up to March 2016.
“This decision gave more time for the providers of the services to find alternative ways of providing and funding the services.
“We’re doing all we can to mitigate the effects of the cuts where we can and part of the discussions with service providers included looking at how things could be done differently and more efficiently.
“While the funding is due to end next March, people living in sheltered accommodation will still receive support from their housing association including maintenance and repairs and people who receive our home care will continue to do so.”
Coun Smith added: “We will offer assessments to people who don’t receive home care but may qualify for it, explore extra care housing options and signpost people to alternative services like befriending and welfare benefits advice.”