What is sheltered housing?
Sheltered housing was developed to accommodate the increasing elderly population and provides a safe, secure and supportive environment for people aged over 60 years to live independently in their own homes.
Generally it comprises of a group of flats and/or bungalows which are connected to the Sheltered Housing Officer's office and/or home via a warden-call communication system. This system allows each resident to contact somebody in the event of an accident or emergency. The system operates by pull cords in each room in the property or via a push button pendant worn around the resident's neck.
The warden-call communication system is also connected to a control centre operated by Southend Borough Council and their staff handle emergency calls on behalf of the Council outside normal office hours or when the Sheltered Housing Officer is on holiday or absent through sickness or other reasons.
If a visit is required to a resident outside normal office hours, one of the Council's standby mobile wardens will be asked to attend.
Sheltered housing schemes also typically have communal facilities such as a laundry, lounge area and security door-entry systems. Some schemes may have a guest room for visitors to use, disabled access showers and lifts to the first floor.
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What is the role of the Sheltered Housing Officer?
Each sheltered housing scheme has a Sheltered Housing Officer who is on duty during the normal office hours of the Council (37 hours per week, Monday to Friday). Out of hours emergency calls are handled by Southend Borough Council as described above.
Sheltered Housing Officers used to be called Wardens. In previous years this role was seen as merely being a " good neighbour", calling on each resident daily to check their well-being. However, with the introduction of the Supporting People programme in 2003, this role changed.
Sheltered Housing Officers are there for the times when residents need extra help. Many residents require assistance with daily living from the Social Services Department, Health Authority or other agencies and organisations. The Sheltered Housing Officer will complete a support plan for each resident to identify their individual support needs and will arrange for such services to be provided to the resident.
The Sheltered Housing Officer is also responsible for dealing with general enquiries and responding to emergencies. They encourage social activities for residents and are responsible for the general supervision and management of the communal areas of the sheltered housing scheme.
The Sheltered Housing Officer is not there to administer medicines or to carry out any nursing duties. They are not permitted to collect pensions for residents or pay their bills. They will also not go shopping for residents or carry out any type of domestic duties such as cooking or cleaning.
The Sheltered Housing Officer will ensure equal opportunities and fair treatment to all residents and will act honestly and with integrity at all times ensuring that all information about residents is treated confidentially.
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How do I apply for sheltered housing?
To apply for sheltered housing you must be on the Housing Register or Transfer List.
In addition to completing a standard Housing Register or Transfer List application form, there is an extra form that you will have to complete called an Assessment of the need for sheltered accommodation which asks about your personal and support needs.
All information provided in this form is treated in complete confidence and is passed to the Sheltered Housing Officer when you are allocated a property so that they can use the information to help plan for your support needs.
The reason that there has to be a specific assessment of your need for this type of accommodation is that sheltered housing services are monitored by the Supporting People Team at Essex County Council.
To qualify for sheltered housing you have to have a need for some support. There is a support charge in addition to the weekly rent charge. The Supporting People Team monitor that tenants are receiving value for money and that they are receiving the support they are paying for by carrying out regular reviews of the service.
Also, if there are any medical or disability conditions which you wish to be considered in your application for sheltered housing, you will also need to complete the Medical Assessment application form.
For the relevant application forms or further information on applying for sheltered housing please contact an Applications Officer on (01268) 882354.
Alternatively, you can also obtain the appropriate forms by:-
Writing to or calling in at the Housing and Communities Department, Council Offices, Kiln Road, Benfleet
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What happens if my application for sheltered housing is refused?
Your application and your needs are assessed by an Applications Officer. If they decide that you are not eligible for sheltered housing because you do not have a support need, they will notify you in writing. If you do not qualify for sheltered housing, provided that you are eligible to join the Housing Register, you will be added to the list for general needs accommodation.
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