Dear Brothers and Sisters
I am a service user who lives in Sheltered Housing and also a member of the Unite union.
I have recently received a notice from the managers of the Services for Older People department which has responsibilities for Sheltered Housing (or Supported Accommodation, as it is sometimes called). The notice said there would not be a Support Officer (Warden) on site on Tuesday, 22 October because staff would be attending a training course. Training courses are obviously important but they should surely be staggered and run over two or three different days to allow for some Support Officers to be onsite as they always have been between Monday and Friday. Tenants surely have the right to know their Support Officer visits to their homes will take place.
A year or two ago it would have been unthinkable for there to be a situation where no Support Officer was on site on any week day to attend to the needs of Service Users but this now seems to be creeping in more and more. The Careline pull cords which tenants have are important but they only link us to a switchboard several miles away and despite their best efforts, the staff there CANNOT provide the face-to-face presence of a daily on-site Support Officer.
This absence of Support Officer coverage is very worrying and the situation seems to be getting worse the more the city council cuts back on financing its services.
Unison organises and represents many of these Support Officers (who work in isolation and must find it very difficult to properly liaise with their workmates) and it would be greatly appreciated to know what steps the union is taking to challenge what is increasingly looking like a worrying run-down in frontline support services.