Frail Angus elderly residents have been given an assurance over alarm call cover in the area’s sheltered housing after fears changes could impact on the “peace of mind” of local OAPs.
In what was described as a surprise announcement, plans for the removal of pull cord alarm systems were recently revealed to tenants at complexes across the district – a move it has also been claimed will shift an additional cost burden onto vulnerable service users.
Angus Council has blamed a third party for “unnecessary concern” caused to tenants and their families, and given a firm commitment that there will be no drop in service with the replacement of a system it branded “no longer fit for purpose”.
Pull cords in sheltered and retirement housing accommodation will be removed and tenants will switch to the Community Alarm pendant system already in place in individual homes across the county, the authority said.
However, the alarm system requires a telephone socket and although the council will meet the installation costs, the monthly line rental must be met by the user.
One local, whose parent is in sheltered housing, said the unexpected change had caused concerns for the elderly and their families.
“It’s another unsettling change – they hadn’t told them the emergency pull cords which they have always had were going to be removed and for many having that was very much a peace of mind thing.
“They knew that if they pulled that cord, someone would be there to answer at the other end and they would be able to check if they were okay.
“Now they’ll have to pay for a monthly line rental, they’ll be charged for any calls they make and if they don’t happen to have their pendant on and something goes wrong then who knows what could happen?
“I know that they have to save money, but they are saving it in the wrong place.”
A council spokesperson said: “We would like to take this opportunity to reassure our tenants there will be no reduction in the level of service provided.
“We will communicate fully with affected tenants regarding any proposed changes once timings for this are known.
“Any recent information appears to have been issued by another agency and we apologise for any unnecessary concern this has caused our tenants and their families.”
They added: “The system tenants currently use to access Community Alarm in the council’s sheltered and retirement housing is no longer fit for purpose and the intention is to replace it with the same system used in individual homes across the county.
“Not all tenants in sheltered and retirement housing require Community Alarm but all those that do will be moved to the new system in the future.
“A timetable for the change has not been finalised and there will be no loss of service during the transfer period. “
The spokesperson continued: “The new system will provide an improved service and much greater business resilience should there ever be a system fault.
“Tenants will be provided with an individual pendant which ensures a call can be activated from anywhere in the home and we are also exploring whether it is possible to provide fixed location alarms for tenants who request them.
“How to use the new system will be discussed with tenants on an individual basis prior to installation. The new system will also allow add on services such as fall trigger and flood detectors to be provided to tenants who require them.
“We will cover the cost of installing a phone line for any tenant requiring Community Alarm who does not currently have one.
“The cost of the monthly line rental is met by the tenant, however this follows earlier changes within sheltered and retirement housing which saw the move to more personalised support services funded through Self-Directed Support and removal of the weekly tenancy support charge.“