New staff arrangements in 63 sheltered housing complexes were introduced earlier this year and a report evaluating the changes was discussed by members of Aberdeenshire Council’s Social Work and Housing Committee at Woodhill House in Aberdeen recently.
Aberdeenshire Council’s Director of Housing and Social Work Ritchie Johnson set the scene for members who debated the changes and the evaluation report. The director explained that the new model of housing support for around 1,500 tenants was approved last year by councillors and takes account of Scottish Government policies around supporting older people to remain independent.
The local authority has been working closely with tenants, staff and trades unions throughout the process to engage people in the changes and the reasons for change.
Chair of Social Work and Housing Committee Councillor Karen Clark said: “Since the Social Work and Housing Committee made the decision to go ahead with the changes a huge amount of work has gone into implementation arrangements and addressing tenants’ concerns through the transition.
“I have spoken to staff and tenants and one of the main issues is around social isolation and our new project officers will build social networks between sheltered housing tenants and the communities in which they live.”
A motion supportive of the recommendations in the report was put forward by Councillor John Duncan to: Acknowledge the findings of the evaluation, keep dependency levels under review, acknowledge tenants would be assessed and social networks developed, agree to review sheltered housing support charges as soon as possible and share findings from the review and changes to sheltered housing with Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) with a view to consistency for all sheltered housing tenants.
Councillor Alison Grant asked for an amendment to: note the findings, agree an urgent audit of dependency levels and needs of each tenant as well as staffing, local and regional infrastructure within each complex with a further report be brought to committee on the findings of the proposed audit.
The motion was carried by eight votes to six and members supporting the amendment asked for the matter to be referred to a future meeting of full council.