‘She could have died!’ - Councillors tell housing operator it must improve or quit after injured elderly woman left unattended for 12 hours


District Councillor Geoff Wiseman says an elderly woman at an ACIS-run housing complex could have died, after being left alone and injured for more than 12 hours.

District Councillor Wiseman recalled the story in his campaign to restore some kind of warden service for the elderly, a service which was withdrawn last year.

“The person who was supposed to look after them, did not want to know,” he told councillors.

Coun Wiseman said the woman had fallen, had two black eyes, and had been lying there for more than 12 hours, when he and a colleague found her at 2pm one afternoon.

“That person was lying in her own blood. She could have died there,” Prosperous Communities Committee heard last week.

Despite an ACIS survey saying 65% of residents are satisfied with current support services, Coun Wiseman said many residents could not adequately answer the forms as they are too frail and some have dementia, so they cannot understand them.

“They want to go back (to having wardens),” he said.

Coun Wiseman said he has been researching other parts of the country, where warden services have been restored cost-effectively.

“We owe our elderly residents a lot more than what’s happened recently,” he told the meeting.

Hemswell councillor Paul Howitt-Cowan said such incidents showed “something radically wrong” and it questions the “actual confidence and integrity in ACIS itself.”

ACIS had a “culture problem” which needed to be addressed.

“They must get their house in order, but what can we do as a council?” he asked.

Coun Giles McNeill (Nettleham) said: “We need to make providers like ACIS aware we are putting them on notice.”

Coun Lewis Strange (Kelsey) said that with ‘sheltered’ accommodation longer being ‘sheltered,’ residents were “getting a bum deal.”

“ACIS has got to know if they don’t want to do the job, let us, with their blessing, give it to someone else. We tell ACIS if they don’t want to improve things, let’s allow another provider to come in,” he said.

Members agreed to meet with ACIS and have quarterly progress reports on the organisation.

“If all our efforts fail, then further action will have to be taken,” Coun Strange added.

Coun Wiseman, who initiated the survey, pledged to keep campaigning for a warden service, even if he is not re-elected.

“We aren’t going to let it drop,” he told the Rasen Mail this week.

Acis was not present at the council meeting, so it couldn’t respond to the councillors directly.

“We welcome the recommendation that the committee shares its survey findings with us and look forward to direct and constructive conversation with the Council about its findings and views,” said an ACIS spokeswoman afterwards.

“As Councillors are aware, the provision of warden-assisted sheltered schemes changed at the end of March 2014, when Lincolnshire County Council, which had previously provided funding, re-directed the money to the new Wellbeing Service.

“At that point, our responsibility changed to become one of a landlord and that is the service we provide at our nine sheltered schemes. Acis staff visit the schemes weekly to check that they are properly repaired and maintained and to resolve any tenancy issues customers are having with their homes.

“The emphasis has changed at those schemes to one of tenants being able to live independently. We are not able to make referrals for any additional support services, but do provide information to help tenants or their families to apply for services themselves.

“We are currently reviewing the information we provide about homes in these schemes so that new customers are fully aware of what services are provided and how they can arrange any additional support,” she said.