The residents of Willow Gardens in Darwen, managed by Together Housing, said they have had their services cut to the point where they are now classed as independent living.

Resident’s representatives David Lord and David Bury, who both live in the complex, said staffing levels have been cut drastically since the complex was opened in 2013, going from one full-time manager and two part-time managers to just one off-site manager monitoring multiple sites.

Mr Lord said: “In 2015 we were informed there would be massive staff cuts and the manager was replaced with a manager who was based at another complex and was responsible for both schemes.

“Due to this we could no longer rely on the presence of staff in our complex during office hours and the service was reduced to an ad hoc basis with residents never knowing when staff were on site.

“Our morning security call was cut to one weekly call and very quickly these calls disappeared completely.

“In 2016 we discovered that staff cuts were imminent with two managers being made responsible for all five sites operated by Together Housing and two women working as floating base team.

“At this stage, we were informed that instead of being sheltered housing we would be classified as independent living with no staff on site. The arrangement continued until last year when the two floating members of staff were made redundant.”

Mr Bury said: “Prospective residents are given the impression that the service is still run on the lines of sheltered housing core values.

“This is hyperbole, it’s incontrovertible and that approach is a deliberate attempt to turn around properties in the shortest possible time

“The rental price of our properties is still high, and the price is based on the services that were once offered but are no longer available.”

Resident Maurice Rogers said housing provider operates with ‘no thought about the future of their residents’.

He said: “My wife and myself moved into Willow Gardens, Darwen in August 2013, because a number of medical experts agreed that my wife needed the benefits of Sheltered Housing.

“These cutbacks have been introduced over a period of two to three years, and mostly we were informed, in meetings, of the forthcoming cuts after they were being implemented.

In fact we were once told by a member of Together Housing that, if we questioned anything, they would abandon the meeting. They also told us that every Social Landlord was in the same position.

“We recently questioned these decisions and the answers and explanations that we received, in writing, did very little to relate to the points we raised.

“Together Housing tells us it is due to the local council withdrawing funding, and they blame the government for cutting back.

“No matter who blames who, the only people who suffer are those that need it the most. From the point of view of us residents.

“Together Housing has moved from one set of cutbacks to another, with no thought about the legal implications, and even more important, no thought about the future of their residents.”

The residents are calling for the return of the morning warden call which Mr Lord said could be the difference between a life and death situation.

He said: “The medical profession has long backed the early morning call as the most important service contact point. We are adamant that this must be re-instated.

“The warden now calls ad hoc at the complex and residents are totally unaware of the wardens presence on the site, they are just fleeting calls.

“Residents who fall ill in the evening/night in most cases are unable to reach the pull cords. They are at their most vulnerable if there is no morning call which could often result in a life or death situation.

“Without the call there is no service. What happened to the duty of care? This call must be returned.

“Simple good time management is required and will resolve this at no further cost.

“Likewise notices must be placed in both blocks stating times that the warden will be in attendance.”

Mr Lord said residents feel that Together Housing has been ‘dictatorial’ in their approach and had acted with no empathy or understanding of their needs.

He said: “At a meeting in 2017, when residents questioned their attempt to remove emergency pull cords from the rooms, the housing officer said that if anyone complained she would close the meeting.

“This shows the antipathy of the company towards discussion and this attitude must never occur again.

“Residents have the right to question decisions and articulate their needs from the service. That is a partnership.

“The tenants at Willow Gardens at all times have acted with composure and the conduct of Together Housing has proven to be dictatorial.

“All these changes were made without consultation with residents, with no empathy or a modicum of understanding of residents needs. Also a complete betrayal of all core values and their duty of responsibility to tenants.

“The so called partnership with tenants has become onerous to them, it has been ditched. Social housing was taken over by these associations supposedly to improve service provision to the residents, without whom the association would not exist.

“Simple solutions are available, but Together Housing must recognise their duty of care to residents.

“It is inexplicable that they do not seem to seem to understand the need to provide the service that we request and that we were promised.”

Amanda Garrard, Director of Neighbourhoods at Together Housing Group, said:

“Together Housing has responded to a complaint made regarding the service at Willow Gardens in line with our complaints procedure.

“We cannot comment further on the specifics, however we have addressed all the points raised and suggested further options to the complainant if they seek further resolution.

“The wellbeing of our tenants remains important to us and that consideration has always been central in reviewing services, in line with changing needs and a cost effective offer, as is the case with housing for older people nationally.

“We are planning to talk to tenants about other options they may wish to consider on a self funded basis, such as a planned wellbeing calls via our alarm provider or a face-to-face wellbeing visit by a member of staff.”