‘Shambles’ - Retirement scheme residents unimpressed by response to double tragedy

PUBLISHED: 06:00 21 September 2019

Woodbridge mayor Eamonn ONolan with residents of Mussidan Place, Woodbridge Picture: JAMIE HONEYWOOD

Woodbridge mayor Eamonn ONolan with residents of Mussidan Place, Woodbridge Picture: JAMIE HONEYWOOD

Jamie Honeywood Archant Norwich Norfolk

Retirement scheme residents still say they are being left to fend for themselves – despite authorities promising to respond to recent tragedies.

Valerie Kersey, resident, at Mussidan Place, Woodbridge Picture: JAMIE HONEYWOODValerie Kersey, resident, at Mussidan Place, Woodbridge Picture: JAMIE HONEYWOOD

Residents at Mussidan Place in Woodbridge had blamed council funding cuts and the removal of warden visits for the delays in finding the bodies, which were discovered in August and February.

MORE: 'Callous' care cuts blamed after bodies left rotting in retirement properties for months

They called on SCC to reinstate the funding, removed in 2018, and criticised Flagship, which manages the properties, for the reduced support.

The organisations have since pledged to work together to identify residents needing help.

While SCC continues to provide care packages, where required, Flagship said it would trial a "little visitors" scheme whereby volunteers and children visit to reduce isolation. It also wants to work with Age UK on befriending and home help schemes.

Mussidan Place, Woodbridge Picture: JAMIE HONEYWOODMussidan Place, Woodbridge Picture: JAMIE HONEYWOOD

But Mussidan Place residents said the response was insufficient. Valerie Kersey said "the main issue of support is still not being addressed".

Residents at Richard Kitson Court in Wickham Market are also unimpressed by the recent events.

One resident, who asked to remain anonymous, said despite removing wardens and labelling the accommodation "retirement housing" for over 55s, the needs of new arrivals were more complex than before. They said residents included people with mental health issues, dementia and cancer. Without support, they said residents were left to fend for themselves and vulnerable people had suffered accidents.

"What we really need are wardens who have medical qualifications and who can look after these people," they said. "At the moment we are being left to look after each other - but we are not here to be nurse maids."

Richard Kitson Court at Wickham Market
 Picture: ARCHIVERichard Kitson Court at Wickham Market Picture: ARCHIVE

They said they did not believe that the new residents were in an appropriate setting for their needs.

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"This whole thing has been an utter shambles," they added.

Flagship said it was sorry to hear of the concerns and it would continue working with SCC.

SCC is considering whether to hold a review into what happened.

People with concerns can call Customer First on 0800 9171109.

Could Good Neighbourhood Scheme help?

Organisers of a 'Good Neighbour Scheme' say the initiative can help address issues facing older residents whose support has been cut.

Community Action Suffolk helps set up the schemes, which are then run by groups of local residents who want to offer a better quality of life to those needing help, such as older, isolated or disabled people, or single parents.

The volunteers are intended to provide a friendly face to those seeking support and can help with tasks such as grass cutting, changing a light bulb or transport to medical appointments. Some have also hosted social events to bring people together and combat isolation.

"East scheme's offer is unique to its community, but with the same overarching aim to build a stronger and more resilient community where people know each other and help out where needed," said CAS's Jane Arkley-Crouch. "The benefit of bringing a Good Neighbourhood Scheme to a community can never be underestimated and it makes a real difference to those most in need, particularly the older or more vulnerable."

The communities of Tunstall, Kelsale-cum-Carlton, Orford and Melton are some of those currently looking to set up schemes, while others are seeking potential members.

Contact Ms Arkley-Crouch on 01473 345429 to find out more about setting up a scheme in your community,

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