Vulnerable Chelmsford residents ‘being neglected’ by sheltered housing claim

A Chelmsford sheltered accommodation home says it is “disappointed” at accusations that residents feel neglected and are having additional obstacles put in their way.

Archibald Smith, 76, is a resident at Coates Lodge, Hollis Lock, and is registered blind, suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), has difficulty walking and is a “shielded person”.

His niece, Debbie Klein, said she was horrified to find he and many of the other residents at the Chelmer Housing Partnership (CHP) facility were “basically left to their own devices” when COVID-19 struck.

She added that he was very frightened, and claimed that two weeks into lockdown no-one from CHP had informed Archie that the warden or any members of staff would not be visiting, or what COVID-19 would mean to the residents with regard to communal areas.

Debbie said only after lockdown had been in place for two weeks did Archie receive a CD from CHP telling him the bare bones of how the pandemic would impact on him as a resident. During this time there was no phone call made to calm the frightened, elderly/disabled residents down, she added.

However, some of the other issues Archie asked her to raise was CHP’s apparent U-turn on a promise for him to use two washing machines simultaneously and staff moving a chair that been in its place for years, which many of the elderly and disabled residents use to rest their legs and catch their breath before navigating their way to their respective flats.

He also said he was unhappy about the locking, without warning, of communal walk-in cupboards which were used by residents to store additional items such as outdoor furniture.

Furthermore, many of the residents used one of the cupboards to store a few of the small Asda trolleys which would aid their walking to and from the supermarket for their shopping.

Debbie said: “When he’s fighting the people who are supposed to be looking out for him as well as everything else it’s difficult.

“It was difficult before Covid but since Covid it has been made much more difficult.”

She added: “He feels very neglected. They are making life difficult for the residents, they are not being compliant at all with small wishes that would make residents’ lives much easier.”

A statement from Coates Lodge said: “We were very disappointed to see the comments from Mr Smith’s niece, as it is our priority to do whatever we can for our customers and to help them feel comfortable, safe and secure in their homes.

“Throughout the lockdown period we have been making weekly calls to all customers in our sheltered schemes to see if they need any additional support. This includes all residents of Coates Lodge. These calls are still taking place and will continue while lockdown measures are in place.

“We have been in regular contact with Mr Smith throughout lockdown to check on his well being and have worked with him to provide any additional support he has requested. This has included arranging food deliveries and assistance with washing his clothes.

“We are continuing to offer Mr Smith and other residents at Coates Lodge as much support as we can at this time. We have written to all residents in our sheltered schemes to make them aware of the steps we are taking to protect them during the pandemic, and the additional safety measures we have put in place.”

The spokesperson said audio versions of these letters had been provided for Mr Smith.

“We make weekly visits to Coates Lodge to check the safety of the building, and currently have an enhanced cleaning service in place, paying particular attention to communal areas,” added the statement.

“We have not told Mr Smith that he cannot use two washing machines at the same time, but we cannot stop other customers at Coates Lodge who also want to use them. We have looked at bringing in a rota system for the washing machines in our shared schemes, but customers have told us they would prefer not to have this as it would be too restrictive.

“Some chairs have been removed from communal corridors in Coates Lodge for the safety of customers as they were next to a fire exit door. There are seats in the main foyer that customers are still able to use. Store cupboards were cleared a number of years ago in line with fire safety regulations.

“We want all of our customers to feel supported, especially during these difficult times. If any customers have concerns we ask that they get in touch with us so that we can address them.”

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Mick Ferris

Editor Email: [email protected]