Monday evening's Housing Committee saw the SNP Administration at long last bring forward their proposals for Sheltered Housing.
I want to start by saying that I know that tenants in the West End greatly value the service they receive in Sheltered Housing. I know that wardens do a great job supporting older people and often go the extra mile for them.
The Sheltered Housing Review has acquired almost mythical qualities, everyone had heard of it we were just unsure whether it actually existed or not. Even SNP councillor Jimmy Black admitted that it had moved at a 'snail's pace'. This has been a major concern to me, the length of time which this review has taken has only added to the concerns felt by tenants and staff and has not been good for anyone.
I welcome the fact that the report was brought forward but I cannot understand how the report could not even mention the Care Inspectorate inspection which took place on 21st February of this year. The Care Inspectorate have published a draft copy of that report by mistake, but it was widely reported in the media that the report was not good. It beggar's belief that we were asked to rush through a report, which has taken far too long to produce in any case, without any reference to a report which is likely to be published soon and which may well be critical of the service. There has been no hurry over the last three years why is there a hurry now?
It is just odd that a service receives an inspection and then makes no reference to that inspection whilst proposing major changes to the service. I was very disappointed that the Convener was so dismissive of genuine concerns.
I am particularly concerned that the overall impact of Sheltered Housing has not been considered in this report. Sheltered Housing and the regulations around it clearly cause the leadership of the council problems but we should have been looking at a much bigger picture. The Christie Commission said that we should be looking at the overall costs to the public purse. I am convinced that the work of Sheltered Wardens keeps older people living in their own homes in the community for longer than may otherwise have been the case. The alternative care settings cost an awful lot more than Sheltered Housing and often do not have the same beneficial outcomes. I hope that the council did not push through a policy that will be detrimental to the care of older people in our city.