Aberdeenshire UNISON

Sheltered Housing

Update July 2013

Branch writes to management with members' outstanding concerns about the impact of theSheltered Housing Review

Following on from the rearranged meetings with member, Branch Chair, Kate Ramsden has written again to Sheltered Housing Management to detail members' ongoing concerns about the impact of the changes to the service following the review, and to ask for clarification of a number of issues.

Kate Ramsden
Kate Ramsden

Kate said, "Our members still have a number of outstanding concerns about the impact of the review on their role and on the service to vulnerable tenants.

"They feel that Sheltered Housing Officer posts and hours have been cut too far, leaving no room for flexibility. This means that there is often insufficient cover for sickness and holidays, and a dependence in some areas on agency staff.

"They are also concerned that the service to tenants has been reduced. Although the council insists that it is a housing service, the reality is that more and more of the tenants have complex needs, and need increasing levels of support to help them manage within their homes in the Sheltered Housing complexes.

"The increase in paperwork and administrative tasks and the reduced hours make it more and more difficult for SHOs to provide this support, and many are doing it unpaid, in their own time.

"We welcome the decision by the Housing & Social Work Committee to keep dependency levels under review, and we have sought clarification from management as to how they will be doing this, and what information they will be looking at.

"We look forward to getting a response to our queries"


Update 18th May

New dates for meetings

The Branch has rearranged the meetings for members who work in Sheltered housing in Aberdeenshire to make sure that all the members who contributed to the UNISON Sheltered Housing survey have a chance to attend.

Meetings have been rearranged for Tuesday 4th June, 5.30-6.30pm in the Swimming Pool, Fraserburgh, and Wednesday 5th June in the Kintore Arms, Inverurie, 5.30-6.30pm. Members have been asked to let the Branch Resource Centre know they will be coming along by phoning 01224 620624.


Update 5th May 2013

Branch to meet with Sheltered Housing members

The Branch has written to all members in Sheltered housing inviting them to UNISON meetings on 15th and 16th May, in Inverurie and Fraserburgh, to discuss their concerns about changes to the role of the Sheltered Housing Officer and the formal management response.

If you have not received an invitation and would like to attend, please phone 01224 620624 for details.

Kate Ramsden, Branch Chair said, "There are clear differences between what our members say is worrying them about the changes to the Sheltered Housing service and what management tell us.

"The formal management response has now been sent to all our members alongside our report of their concerns, as we agreed when we met with Rhoda Hulme and Mike Smith back in March.

"We will now talk to our members about the way forward."


Update 13 March 2013
Branch meets Sheltered Housing managers to discuss members' concerns

Branch Chair, Kate Ramsden today met with Aberdeenshire Council's Rhoda Hulme and Mike Smith to discuss the report of members' concerns about the changes to Sheltered Housing and the role of the Sheltered Housing Officer.

Kate said, "It was a helpful meeting. The council listened to our members' concerns and although they did not agree with them all, they made it clear that they do want to go forward positively and to work alongside staff to address their concerns in a way that puts the needs of the residents to the forefront.

"They said that staff have already brought many of the issues to their attention and that they are monitoring the impact of the changes, including the use of agency staff and the numbers of residents who are moving on from Sheltered Housing to accommodation which provides greater care.

"They also have plans to provide further training for SHOs in particular. However, they made it clear that the changes to the role of the Sheltered Housing Officers was the outcome of a review and the decision was taken by the Council. It is therefore unlikely to change."

Kate added, "The council has agreed to provide a written response to the matters raised by UNISON and the Branch will circulate this to members when we receive it, alongside UNISON's final report. We would then look to arrange a meeting of all members to look at the response."


Update 4th March 2013
Branch will take Sheltered Housing members' concerns to management

The Branch is to meet with members of Social Work management responsible for the provision of Sheltered Housing to discuss our members' responses to a branch consultation on the changes to Sheltered Housing following the 2011 review. These have shown serious concerns about the impact of the changes on the quality of the service and on members' jobs and working conditions.

Branch Chair, Kate Ramsden has already met with councillors from the administration and the SNP to detail members' concerns. These matters have been discussed at the Housing and Social Work Committee and will be considered again at the meeting of the full council on 7th March.

Kate said, "Just under 30% of members consulted returned their questionnaires. The rest were sent a copy of the report and asked to get back to us if it did not reflect their experiences. Those that got back to us confirmed the concerns raised.

"The branch has sent the report of members' views to the council and has called for the council to review the service in light of these concerns. We hope that our forthcoming meeting will find a way forward to address our members' concerns."