‘Press button if still alive’ plan for OAPs is ‘dangerous’

Sheltered housing residents in Glasgow could face changes to alarm system.
Sheltered housing residents in Glasgow could face changes to alarm system.
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Pensioners living in sheltered housing will have to ‘press a button’ every day to let carers know they are still alive.

The controversial move planned by Glasgow Housing Association (GHA) is part of a budget-cut strategy.

The OkEachDay button is pressed by a resident every 24 hours. Failure to do so results in a telephone call from staff. If the vulnerable pensioner fails to answer, staff then contact a named person or friend.

The new system is expected to replace daily visits from wardens who will be moved to three new ‘delivery hubs.

Critics say moving to such an automated system is a danger to vulnerable pensioners.

Adam Tomkins, Scottish Conservative social security spokesman, said the proposals were “dangerous.”

“The idea that face-to-face surveillance of at-risk individuals can be replaced by a button is a dangerous proposal. This new system is financially counter-productive, but worse, it is fraught with risk.”

Anas Sarwar, MSP, Scottish Labour’s health spokesman, said: “These are deeply concerning reports. Families in Glasgow and across Scotland will rightly be outraged at these proposals.

“The reality is the SNP has cut local services by more than £1.5billion since 2011 across the country, damaging services some of the most vulnerable people in Scotland rely on.”

Keith Robson, director of Age Scotland, said wardens played a valuable role which could not be replaced.

“Whilst we recognise the financial pressures councils are facing this is a concerning and potentially short-sighted development.

“Wardens do not provide care but they can provide reassurance and be an early warning system. Skilled and empathetic wardens who are familiar with residents can spot changes in behaviour or routine which may prompt further queries and allow for earlier help or support.”

A spokesman for GHA said consultation ends on 21 January.

“Funding from Glasgow Health and Social Care Partnership for sheltered housing services ends in March.

“We are committed to helping older tenants live independently and we are consulting them about how we can continue to provide services to do that after the funding ends. Tenants will have an important role in shaping that service.”