VULNERABLE elderly residents living in a sheltered housing block in Chard were left shocked at learning the Extra Care service was being cut.

With well-documented mounting financial pressures, Somerset County Council (SCC) announced proposals that it would be cutting the Extra Care service at three of the Independent Living Schemes run by the Yarlington Housing Group at Snowdon House in Chard, as well as residences in Yeovil and Somerton.

Andrzej Wasenczuk, 69, said when the news was announced to the 30 or so residents living at Snowdon House, it was met with a reaction of ‘shock and disappointment’.

“We just sat there in shock when the news was announced,” Mr Wasenczuk said.

“One of the biggest problems is how little time we have to make alternative arrangements.

“We’ve been told the Extra Care service will cease at the end of January, but that gives us just 56 days, a lot of which will be taken up by weekends and the Christmas break,” Mr Wasenczuk said.

Yarlington’s Simon Shewry said the housing association was ‘deeply disappointed’ with the decision.

“While we understand the critical nature of SCC’s financial position, we are deeply disappointed cuts are being made to much relied upon services that impact our most vulnerable customers.

“Our focus is to support our customers through the changes, ensuring they have a voice and their care needs are met.

Mr Shewry said Yarlington is not a registered care provider and its properties are not residential/nursing care homes.

“Extra Care is a service provided in partnership between Yarlington, SCC, and the appointed care provider Allied Healthcare.

“We will continue to offer our ‘Assisted Living’ support service to all affected residents.

“This is obviously a worrying time for our residents and we’re doing all we can to support them.”

SCC said it had reviewed the Extra Care service and found it was providing relatively low levels of care and the 24/7 on-site support wasn’t getting used as much as expected.

An SCC spokesman said: “We’ve been funding support that isn’t being called upon - that’s not a good use of resources and is something we can no longer afford.

“The team of care staff will no longer be on site during the evening and weekends, but residents will still be able to use the 24/7 helpline.

"Tenancy support provided by the housing association will also remain, and the Council’s Community Connect service, working closely with Village Agents, will be there to look at ways some needs can be met within the local community.

“Anyone who is concerned about the change can request a social care assessment and everyone assessed as having a need will continue to have that need met. The change shouldn’t mean anyone needs to move.

“We spoke to residents and the housing association before taking our decision and held meeting to discuss our decisions. We will of course continue to work with them and their families to put the new arrangements in place."