Failure to spot mental health needs in older people leads to their eviction

    Older people are being evicted from sheltered housing because their
    needs are inadequately assessed, a consortium of sheltered housing
    schemes has warned, writes Shirley Kumar.

    Some older people are ending up in council emergency accommodation,
    including B&Bs, after being evicted from sheltered housing for
    antisocial behaviour, the Emerging Role of Sheltered Housing
    (Erosh) told the National Sheltered Housing Conference in Harrogate
    last week. 

    Only when in emergency accommodation will social services assess
    their needs and identify behaviour problems, for example mental
    health issues, and place them in psychiatric hospitals or long-term
    residential care, said Erosh.

    The concerns follow research that examined the cases of 20 older
    people evicted in one month from four London sheltered housing
    schemes. Seven were evicted for antisocial behaviour, including
    abusive or violent behaviour, terrorising neighbours and playing
    their music and televisions too loud. Others were evicted for non
    payment. Some were reported as throwing their wheelchairs about and
    wandering naked around their housing schemes.

    Erosh deputy chair Meic Phillips said wardens should alert social
    services of behavioural problems before evicting.
    The consortium is calling for local protocols to be put in place
    detailing which information can be shared between health, social
    services and the police.

    “Social services and the police often say landlords do not
    need to know, but if a person has a history of violence or a drug
    and alcohol problem the landlord needs to see whether he can manage
    that person,” said Phillips.

    The National Wardens Association said behaviour problems in
    sheltered housing was a “growing problem” and access to
    medical history in certain cases was vital.

    An Age Concern spokesperson said: “The chronic under-funding
    of all areas of social care for older people means many do not get
    the right support to meet their needs. Older people should be able
    to get the services they need, when they need them.”

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