Edinburgh sheltered housing tenants treated like ‘second class citizens’

Edinburgh Council HQ have been criticised for delays in installing equipment for disabled residents. Pic: JP
Edinburgh Council HQ have been criticised for delays in installing equipment for disabled residents. Pic: JP
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Tenants living in sheltered accommodation have blasted Edinburgh City Council for treating them like “second class citizens” after raising complaints over a lack of trained wardens, unsatisfactory repairs and delays in installing equipment for disabled residents.

Members of Edinburgh’s sheltered housing liaison group spoke out about their frustration to the city council’s housing and economy committee.

Nicol Johnstone said cutbacks to the sheltered housing service in the council’s transformation programme made tenants feel like their “human rights were suffering”.

He added: “There are less wardens now than we had four years ago.

“We are fed up with being treated like second class citizens, being sidelined and being forgotten about. Our lives and rights matter as much as anybody else’s.

“It’s time for the council to take on board our suggestions. They may save money, time and reduce bed blocking.”

Mr Johnstone said that the council was sending people to carry out repairs to buildings but if they didn’t have the right materials, workers were leaving and logging the repairs as completed. He also called for more wardens, particularly to cover absences, and adequate washing machines.

Vice housing and economy convener, Cllr Lezley Marion Cameron, said: “We’ve heard about washing and drying equipment and machinery being broken down. Sheltered housing tenants deserve to have appliances that are modern, easy to use and work. If there are problems with them, I would hope they are prioritised.”

Mr Johnstone highlighted the case of a tenant in a wheelchair in an upper floor “with no access to the outside world”. He also spoke about a man with cancer who waited a year and a half for a ramp to be installed in his home.

Mr Johnstone added: “People are dead before they put the ramp or the stairlift in. Why are people being punished for being ill?”

The council has 968 sheltered homes. The service was moved over from the Health and Social Care Partnership in April, but “without a management structure” in place. Two managers have been employed and officers said they would meet with tenants to put an action plan in place.

SNP Cllr Norman Work called for an investigation into what can be done to reduce loneliness for tenants.

He said: “I was wondering if we could get some sort of report about how the council is going to deal with that and what could we be doing to address that issue.”

Cllr Kate Campbell, housing and economy convener, said: “We always value feedback from tenants about their experiences of council services, and I’m grateful to the Sheltered Housing Liaison Group for coming to share their concerns.”