A very sad story of Alan Derrick, a man with learning difficulties, who was living in so-called ‘sheltered housing’ and took pity on a former colleague, Dennis Pring, after the death of his wife.
The events are disturbing, but perhaps the most disturbing comment is from Jon House, the deputy chief executive of Bristol city council, who ‘conceded that when officials visited the flat they should have asked more probing questions. He added: “A more active intervention nine or 10 years ago, and a healthier dose of common sense, might have stopped Mr Pring’s death lying undiscovered.”
He admitted it was not possible to say exactly how many times the flat had been visited because of the way records were kept. Extra training had been given to make sure such a tragedy would not happen again. Derrick had been rehoused and was being given the support he needed.’
Poor Alan Derrick didn’t receive the shelter he needed. Nor did he receive the care that he needed. Social Services, the Sheltered Housing, the Council all failed in their duty of care. It’s not good enough to describe Mr Derrick as a ‘no-call’ tenant, meaning that residential officers were not permitted to enter his flat without permission. Did he never receive any visits from support services? Did nobody notice before that he had no running water, electricity or gas?
And a more active intervention nine or ten years ago, with just a modicum of common sense would have spared Mr Derrick from living in unacceptable conditions.
As for the lack of records to show how many times the flat had been visited by the support systems – no comment! Record keeping is a basic requirement – not a shield for the irresponsible to hide behind. Come out of hiding, please, and explain why your lousy record keeping existed.
What is the meaning of ‘sheltered’ housing to Bristol City Council if it provides no shelter, no care, no support? On 17th March 2008 Bristol City Council’s Quality of Life Scrutiny Commission met to discuss reclassifying its sheltered housing to become either ‘Supported Housing for Older People’ or ‘Elderly Preferred’, with current residents continuing to receive ‘floating support’ (!) where needed, and also enabling those in ‘Elderly Preferred’ accommodation to opt out of support services. Prior to that date, they were apparently all unable to opt out the support element of their accommodation for which they were charged.
Where was the care and support for Alan Derrick? Absent without leave.