Elderly people who live at five assisted retirement housing schemes run by Swindon Borough Council are concerned at changes that may be coming.

The local authority is asking residents at four schemes Harry Garrett Court, Newburgh House, Maple Court and The Ridings, whether they would be prepared to pay more for what’s called ‘extra care’ or whether the provision should be removed.

But family members of those residents are not happy.

‘Extra care’ sees staff members on site at the four schemes at all time, just in case they are needed.

It is part of the service provided, whether residents are self-funding, or subsidised by the borough council

But now the council is consulting them on making changes.

It says: “The service was designed and commissioned to provide support to 164 people with care need across the four schemes. However, only 67 of the 164 tenants have an assessed social care need.

“The cost of delivering the 24/7 emergency and unplanned support across the fours schemes is around £450,000 per year. We currently undertake a financial assessment of all social care clients making a fair contribution. However, non-social care tenants have never been asked to contribute to this despite this service being provided.”

It’s offering three options: one where the 24/7 emergency and unplanned service is removed entirely, a second option where two carers are employed in the community between 10pm and 8am every night to respond to emergency calls for assistance. The cost to tenants would be between £23 and £34 per week.

The third option would see two carers are employed in the community 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to respond to emergency calls for assistance. These staff members will be mobile and will respond to calls as soon as possible. The cost to tenants for providing this service will be between £37 and £54 per week.

One man who has a relative living at the schemes said: “I don’t think it’s at all right that the council should be proposing to charge people more for a worse service.

“At the moment there are two or three extra carers onsite in the day and one, again onsite, at night.

“Now the council is talking about charging people to pay for carers who won’t be onsite, who won’t be able to provide immediate emergency care.”

A borough council spokesman said: “We are holding a number of engagement sessions as part of a review into the service. We want to make the service more efficient and ensure that it meets residents’ specific needs. Like many local authorities, we are facing huge financial challenges and it is extremely important that we look at ways in which services can be made more sustainable in the long term.

“Following the engagement process we will work with residents to find solutions that work for everyone.

“The current contract is due to end on the 31 March but this is subject to the outcome of the engagement process, and the decisions which will be taken as a result.

“We welcome input from residents and a full list of engagement sessions can be found by logging on to https://bit.ly/2Rz6l9l.”