Sheltered housing tenants with registered social landlords are
often being evicted because of a failure by professionals to share
information. Craig Kenny reports
Sheltered housing specialists have warned that older people with
dementia are being evicted from sheltered housing because their
needs have been incorrectly assessed.
A consortium of social housing providers – the Emerging Role
of Sheltered Housing – claims that seven tenancies with four
registered social landlords in London broke down within a month
after each tenant’s behaviour became bizarre or
However, Meic Phillips, chair of the consortium’s good
practice group, insists evictions are a last resort for registered
He says: “Where an eviction takes place, the matter moves to
the homelessness services and temporary accommodation or, in some
extreme cases, people go to the street or slip away from local
provision to family or friends. But, more often, the process of
seeking eviction and the recognition that a person’s home is
at risk can bring appropriate resources into the life of the
The failure of social care, health and housing providers to share
information about prospective tenants often lies at the heart of
the problem, Phillips says.
“Sometimes, issues about disclosure of true needs and mental
health conditions by social services to housing professionals may
result in breakdowns of tenancies,” he says.
“Often, an older people’s team, instead of a mental
health team, may deal with people once they reach retirement age
and they may not have access to medical information.”
Specialist dementia teams are best suited to intervening early on
to prevent a tenancy breaking down, Phillips adds.
He suggests that, for people with more complex needs, extra care
housing or specialist residential care may be more
But the need to fulfil agreements between registered social
landlords and local authorities can sometimes lead to corners being
cut, he warns.
“Local authorities may be allocating to registered social
landlords or their own stock without knowledge of
individuals’ behavioural histories,” Phillips says.
“Nomination agreements and the rush to fill empty properties
may not be conducive to landlords conducting effective assessments.
There’s often exasperation in sheltered housing that people
who are allocated don’t come with support.”
Gwen Hassell, membership secretary of the National Wardens
Association, says pressure is sometimes applied to sheltered
housing providers to make inappropriate placements.
“I have one 56 year old with mental health needs who I feel
we are being harassed into offering a flat by her, her social
workers and her advocates,” she says. “But I am not
sure a woman of that age would be happy among people whose average
age is 78. It might compound her problems.”
Hassell argues that social services need to recognise that wardens
can often have a valuable input into ensuring that sheltered
tenancies are successful.
She says: “Wardens see the tenant 24/7, often more than their
own family do. But social workers can
be quite dismissive of us as we are not medically trained. They
need to trust us. Housing is only just being recognised as part of
the jigsaw. We should be involved in case conferences.”
Phillips agrees that social workers “miss a trick” if
they walk past the warden’s office and fail to engage with
them when making
“Wardens see any behavioural or physical changes, and may
know about any coping strategies the tenant may have,” he
He identifies several areas where practice could be better, as well
as the sharing of information and understanding of the rules around
“Management of medication, community psychiatric services and
appropriate care plans where the warden is actively engaged as a
significant service in the life of the individual are all areas
where practice can be improved.
“The Supporting People initiative may join all these dots,
but some are still being missed.” CC