Investigation launched after sheltered housing body left undiscovered for 24 hours

Stroud News and Journal: Investigation launched after sheltered housing body left undiscovered for 24 hours Investigation launched after sheltered housing body left undiscovered for 24 hours

AN INVESTIGATION has been launched after the body of a sheltered housing resident was not found for 24 hours.

Michael Maxwell, believed to be in his late 60s, lived at Grange View in Uplands and confirmed he was okay on Sunday, May 4.

However the following day he did not call the council’s OKEachDay service by pressing a button linked to a phone line and it has since been revealed that no-one from Stroud District Council checked on him.

Mr Maxwell was not discovered until Tuesday, May 6.

A spokesman from SDC said there seemed to have been a failing on the bank holiday Monday which resulted in Mr Maxwell not being discovered until the Tuesday.

John Hatton, chairman of the United Sheltered Accommodation Panel, claimed that if the housing shelter still had ‘live-in wardens’ the delay would not have happened.

“Over the past four years, the district council has dismantled the system under which every scheme had a warden who lived on the premises,” he said.

“Had this still been in place, Mr Maxwell’s body would have been found long before it was.”

Mr Hatton urged the council to suspend plans to reduce the number of qualified supported housing staff from 18 to six until a full independent inquiry has established precisely what went wrong.

He added: “Candidly, I don't have much confidence in the district council to conduct an accurate investigation. They had made no mention of this sad case until we drew media attention to it.

"Our view is that they should get their consultants, the Chartered Institute of Housing, to commission a fully independent inquiry."

The coroner confirmed there will be no inquest because Mr Maxwell died of natural causes.

A spokesman for SDC said: “We understand that the coroner has ruled that Mr Maxwell died of natural causes on the Sunday.

“Notwithstanding this, when we didn’t receive a response to our scheduled welfare call on Monday, our welfare check process was triggered, but unfortunately something subsequently went wrong with our internal procedures.

“This meant that we didn’t visit his home until the next morning.

“We are obviously sorry for, and concerned about, this unacceptable 24 hour delay and have launched an internal investigation to find out what happened.

“Mr Hatton has alleged that the reduction in staffing in recent years contributed to the delay. We would like to reassure our residents that this is not the case.

“The current telephone service provides a welfare check every day, including weekends and bank holidays, rather than just during the working week, which was the system when we had live in wardens.”

“We can assure Mr Hatton and all sheltered housing residents that our investigation will be thorough and once again reiterate that this very unfortunate incident was due to human error rather than anything to do with changes to staffing levels at our schemes.”

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