Windsor House to close

Shock as Ascot Way elderly persons home faces early axe

The media are claiming today that Windsor House will be the next home to be closed by the City of York Council.

Although the closure is not unexpected, it had been anticipated that the home would remain open until alternative facilities were provided in the Acomb area.

Originally the plan had been to offer residents places at a brand-new care village which was to have been built on the former Lowfields school site. That project is running 5 years behind schedule and does not yet even have planning permission.

Another option – to replace the facility on the Oakhaven site – also is running behind schedule.

The Council is putting most of its effort and money into the east of the city. The sale of the Windsor House site – and parcels of land at Lowfields – will be used to finance a big home and leisure complex at Burnholme.

Windsor House residents, and their relatives, are likely to be very angry if places cannot be provided in Acomb to ensure that links with families and friends are sustained.

Some of the 34 members of staff at the home may face redundancy although, as there is a chronic shortage of care staff in the City, most will have a choice of alternative jobs should they choose to remain in the sector.

The closure would mean that the last Council run elderly persons home in the Westfield Ward would close. There is a private home on Gale Lane.

The sheltered accommodation at places like Gale Farm and Lincoln Court are not directly affected by the decision.

Gale Farm Court care services rated ‘good’

Gale Farm Court sheltered accommodation

Gale Farm Court sheltered accommodation

Care and support services at City of York Council’s Sheltered Accommodation with Extra Care facilities has been described as ‘good’ by independent inspectors

The Personal Support Services (PSS), which offers care services to a number of tenants at Glen Lodge, Barstow House, Marjorie Waite Court and Gale Farm Court, was assessed by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in January. It was described as ‘safe, effective, caring and responsive’ by the team of inspectors, who spoke to tenants and members of staff as part of their visit.

Comments from customers included: “I feel safe because they’re [the carers] are so efficient.”; “The care workers are very professional in everything they do.” “The carers and very good and considerate. They always look after me well and are most kind and careful.”

Councillor Carol Runciman, Executive Member for Adult Social Care and Health, City of York Council, said: “I’m pleased that the inspection has highlighted so many areas of good practice in the care and support provided at our sheltered housing accommodation. It’s particularly heartening to see so many positive comments from customers about the care they receive.

“Extending the existing facilities at Glen Lodge and creating additional purpose-built Sheltered Accommodation across the city is a key part of our plans to improve accommodation for older people in the city and I’m delighted that our existing services are rated as ‘good’. I’d like to thank all the staff for their continued hard work and dedication.”

New planning applications Westfield Ward

Gale Farm Court elderly persons sheltered accommodation to get new windows and doors see planning application ref AOD/15/00028

Gale Farm Court sheltered accommodation

Gale Farm Court sheltered accommodation

Below are the latest planning applications received by the York Council for the Westfield ward.

Full details can be found by clicking the application reference

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Acomb

None

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Westfield

Location:       93 Queenswood Grove York YO24 4PN

Proposal:       Two storey side and part two storey and single storey rear extensions

Ref No: 14/03020/FUL

Applicant:      Mr Mark Redding  Contact Mr John Funnell  Consultation Expiry Date        16 February 2015 Case Officer:   Carolyn Howarth Expected Decision Level DEL

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Location:       12 Askham Lane York YO24 3HA

Proposal:       Two storey side extension and single storey front extension to existing porch

Ref No: 15/00058/FUL

Applicant:      Mr Wayne Robinson     Consultation Expiry Date        16 February 2015 Case Officer:   Carolyn Howarth Expected Decision Level DEL

———————

Representations can be made in favour of, or in objection to, any application via the Planning on line web site.  http://planningaccess.york.gov.uk/online-applications/

  1. The Council now no longer routinely consults neighbours by letter when an application is received.

Meals service for elderly to be restored at Gale Farm Court

Meals at Gale Farm Court will be restarting in January following pressure from residents and new Westfield Councillor Andrew Waller.

Gale Farm Court Affected by meals decision

Gale Farm Court Affected by meals decision

The new service will be supplied via Age UK (formerly Age Concern) with freshly made meals being prepared daily.

The Council announced in September that it was scrapping the lunchtime meal option at its sheltered establishments. The move was heavily criticised for lack of consultation and it later emerged that the cost saving measure had been prompted by criticism of the quality of food provided by the previous contractor.

The Council hoped to save £50,000 by cutting meals services at its elderly persons establishments

Residents had thought that the Council were negotiating with other supplers and were stunned when the decision to scrap the service was made on 3rd September.

Despite appeals the meals stopped on 1st October – leaving residents too little time to appoint another supplier.

The Labour Cabinet member (Cunningham–Cross) refused to reply to Andrew Waller when he wrote, on behalf of residents, to ask for an extension to allow enough time for a new system to be worked out.

Andrew Waller commented

The new meals have been chosen by the residents, and they are pleased that the Council no longer manages the contract.

 Instead they are now in control and can take problems up directly with John O’Brien who is running the meals system.

It is sad that the Council treat residents of Gale Farm Court (and the other three sheltered homes run by the Council) so badly, and I hope that lessons have been learned for the future.

The Council has admitted to me that the situation was badly handled.”

The  incident has parallels with the muddle over the future of the  Castlegate centre for young people. There the Council was forced to reverse a closure decision earlier in the week and admitted that it had failed to consult properly on options.

Local Group? Looking for a free meeting venue? Gale Farm Court may be the answer

The residents of Gale Farm Court, the sheltered accommodation unit for older people which is located on Front Street, have come up with a novel way of making better use of their community room.Rock band

They are offering free use of the room – which can accommodate up to 40 people – to local groups who need a meeting space.

The residents will permit free use of the room with priority being given to groups who might let residents join in with their activities.

Obviously this offer is likely to be of particular interest to craft, further education and discussion groups who are in need of additional participants, but it may also go some way to satisfying the demand for space at places like Energise and the Library which are sometimes over subscribed.

Any group that is interested should communicate their details and requirements to:

Kerrie Smith|Sheltered Housing Scheme Manager

t: 01904 552298 |m: 07825680637| e: kerrie.smith@york.gov.uk

 

More revelations on withdrawal of meals service for elderly

The York Council has admitted-  in a response to a Freedom of Information request – that it did not formally consult on ending the mid day meal service at its sheltered accommodation units.

 

Gale Farm Court Affected by meals decision

Gale Farm Court Affected by meals decision

Instead any discussions centred around the quality of the meal on offer.

The cut was implemented on 1st October.

The Council has also blamed officials for the decision to end the meals service which it is intended will save £50,000 a year.

They say that the Labour Cabinet approved the budget cut but implementation was delegated to council officials.

The FOI response can be read by clicking here

Liberal Democrats are pressing for the meals service to be restored and have pointed to the £30,000 a year being spent on the empty Oliver House home as one source of alternative funding.

If the Liberal Democrats win the Westfield by election it is also likely that the number of £20,000 a year Cabinet posts will be reduced from the present level of eight.

 

Labour go ahead with threat to end meals for elderly

Lunch off menu at Gale Farm Court

Westfield Residents have lost out again from cavalier council.

Meals at sheltered housing in Gale Farm Court were axed by the council on 1st October despite protests by residents that the council had not given time for alternatives to be worked through.

Gale Farm Court

Gale Farm Court

Residents had been led to believe that the council was sorting out a better contract for the meals – but on 3rd September a letter was sent by the council to say that the meals were being stopped on 1st October

Residents do not have kitchens – indeed residents took on their flats on the understanding that they would have communal meal arrangements.

The letter had followed months of consultation where residents were led to believe that the council was simply sorting out a better provider- following complaints about the quality and unreliability of orders. The Council leader James Alexander had been approached in February at the “Westfield Community Conversation” event and had claimed that he wanted to sort the problem out!

Andrew Waller has been working with residents and companies who want to provide a service which means that residents don’t need to eat in isolation in their own flats. On behalf of the residents he wrote to Cabinet Councillor Lindsey Cunningham Cross to request that the old system continued until there had been a new one developed – in response she said that she would not comment on whether the scheme would or would not cease on 1st October…. until the 16th October.

Residents found out the hard way that the council was not going to budge.

Some taster sessions have been run by companies who want to bid for the work, but these have taken place after the council had stopped the communal meals. Andrew will be pressing with residents that a sustainable solution is brought forward.

Andrew said “The treatment of the residents of Gale Farm Court has been shocking. The axing of the service came out of the blue, and it seemed like the council had already written off the prospect of a replacement even before they sent out the letters at the beginning of September. I know that Cllr Lynn Jeffries had been working with the residents for months to get better meals.

Residents in council sheltered schemes deserve to be treated with respect by the council. They should have worked to provide a new solution before axing the old. It seems that the council is saying that it is trying to tackle social isolation in the area .. but actually does the opposite in practise. I am pleased that the residents have not taken this lying down, and have been pressing for a solution that they are able to choose a solution”.

Bid to help senior citizens who are set to lose lunches

Gale Farm Court residents offered hope by Andrew Waller

Gale Farm Court

Gale Farm Court

Andrew Waller has stepped into the controversy surrounding Labours decision to stop lunch time meals at Gale Farm Court.

Andrew is trying to involve local cafes and the library in providing an alternative service.

He comments

“Residents have asked for the quality of their meals to be improved so that there was a greater take-up and costs could be controlled. Some even raised that issue with the council leader in the Community Conversation on 13th February.

Little did they know that by raising dissatisfaction with the quality of their meals that this would result in the council axing the service”

Numbers taking the meals at Gale Farm Court had dwindled due to poor perceived quality and value for money from the current provider, with some residents often getting different food to what they had offered. Some residents have not had a choice to cook for themselves due to their personal circumstances, and this is a huge let down for them.

Meeting together for meals was an effective way to reduce isolation which has been highlighted as a problem in the local area by a number of agencies including the Joseph Rowntree Trust.

Attempts had been made through Acomb Alive! to engage with local Acomb cafes and restaurants to provide alternatives which were more popular – there was a trial on 13th July with a local provider which was well supported by residents.

The expectation was that this was going to be developed to provide a range of meals which better met resident’s demands, with support for local businesses being a mutual support.

Instead there may now be too little time to sort this out which is very disappointing.

A more open process should have been adopted from the beginning and yet again residents are left feeling that decisions are being made behind closed doors forced as a result of the poor spending controls of the current council”.

Lib Dems force windows U-Turn at Gale Farm Court

Gale Farm Court sheltered accommodation

Gale Farm Court sheltered accommodation

Residents at a sheltered housing scheme in Acomb will see old windows replaced after a Liberal Democrat campaign led to a U-turn from Labour run City of York Council.

Gale Farm Court, on Front Street in Acomb, looked set to miss out on the drafty window replacement programme – which was orginally brought in by the Liberal Democrats in February 2011. When Labour took power in May 2011 they continued the scheme, but in June 2013 it was confirmed by council officers that Gale Fram Court would not be included and any upgrades there would be a “wasting money”.

However, after complaints from residents and a campign from Lib Dem Westfield Councillor Lynn Jeffries, council staff have confirmed that work could start to install replacement windows at the site as early as this summer.

Cllr Jeffries commented:

“I am delighted that sheltered housing tenants at Gale Farm Court will now get the replacement windows. Many of the exisitng windows are in a poor state – letting in too much noise, cold and wet and letting out too much heat. I even know residents who have had slugs coming into their flat as a result of the old windows.

“Given this it was hugely disappointing that Gale Farm Court was not on the programme for window replacements last year. However, I have repeatedly raised the issue with council officers and at public meetings and I am pleased to see that action is going to be taken hopefully as early as this summer. Residents at Gale Farm should certainly not be expected to endure another winter with the existing windows.”

NB The February 2011 Lib Dem budget included £700,000 for investment in insulation and replacement of draughty windows in council owned properties. The programme aimed to ensure that residents benefited from warmer homes and lower fuel bills.

More information on the scheme can be found here: http://www.york.gov.uk/info/200486/council_tenant_repairs_and_modernisation/1075/major_improvements_and_maintenance/8

Councillor hits out at lack of consultation over Gale Farm Court charges

Gale Farm Court sheltered accommodation

Gale Farm Court sheltered accommodation

Liberal Democrats have criticised a lack of consultation on price increases for residents in sheltered housing who use the council’s warden call service.

At this week’s Decision Session Labour’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Services, Cllr Tracey Simpson-Laing, rubber-stamped proposals to increase the charges for residents using the 24-hour support service.

12 months ago Cllr Laing refused to meet Gale Farm Court residents but tried to blame the LibDems for her plans to increase warden call charges

12 months ago Cllr Laing refused to meet Gale Farm Court residents but tried to blame the LibDems for her plans to increase warden call charges

The report admitted that the price increases could “result in financial hardship for vulnerable elderly tenants”.

 

Despite these concerns, no consultation was undertaken with sheltered housing tenants on the proposed changes and there are fears that the first residents will know about the plans is when they receive a letter from City of York Council.

Cllr Lynn Jeffries the Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Equalities, attended the meeting and criticised the lack of engagement with tenants. She commented:

“This change will affect some of the most vulnerable residents in York and it is unacceptable that neither they nor their families were asked for their views on the price increases.

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