Elderly People’s Warden

Elderly people's wardens are known in some local authorities as residential wardens and unit managers.  Following the Community Care Act and the importance given to enabling elderly people to live independent lives, councils run sheltered housing complexes.  These enable elderly people to have their own flats or bungalows without having to worry about maintenance and repairs.  They also benefit from common facilities if they wish - such as a residents' lounge, entertainment and activities.  Most importantly, they have a resident warden to help them with any problems.  Elderly people's wardens (EP wardens) work for district/borough and unitary councils.

Work Environment
The warden works in a small office - or often from his or her own flat or house within the complex.  Hours are usually 37 a week Monday to Friday.  At weekends calls for assistance are switched through to central control units where operators will contact doctors, repair personnel, etc, or can send out a 'mobile warden' if necessary.   In some councils, wardens may be required to be on call 24 hours a day during the week.  If they plan to go out for a long period they inform central control staff who will take over as at weekends.

Daily Activities
Wardens start their day at about 8.00am by telephoning every resident to ask if they need anything.  Some of them will have 'care packages', planned by Social Services, under which home carers come to assist them with getting up and dressing.  If a carer has not arrived for some reason, the warden will phone to arrange for a replacement - or if the resident is in distress, he or she may go to assist personally.  They usually visit anyone they know is ill.

From about 10.00am, the day can be either hectic or quiet.  The warden may have to contact doctors, social workers, community nurses, voluntary groups or relatives.  If a resident is admitted to hospital the warden rings their relatives to inform them.  If someone dies, they have to contact relatives and break the news.

During the day, wardens usually serve coffee and tea at set times in the residents' lounge.  Several times a month they may arrange lunch clubs - which can be open to elderly people living elsewhere in the neighbourhood and organise activities like bingo, whist or talks by speakers.  Some social activities may be run by volunteers with the warden's agreement.

At any time they may have to arrange for repairs to flats or to communal rooms.  They contact the council to make the arrangements and sign for the work when it is finished.  They also regularly test fire alarms and emergency pull cords.  They usually supervise the cleaners - or may do some cleaning duties themselves.  Wardens also keep and update details of resident's next of kin and family doctor and record visits by doctors.

Skills & Interests
Elderly people's wardens must be:

  • caring and sensitive;
  • able to switch off from the job when not on duty;
  • able to tread the difficult balance between allowing their clients as much independence as possible and avoiding problems;
  • able to react with a cool head.  They might for instance use their emergency key to enter a resident's flat and find that the person has died;
  • persistent and able to argue the case for a resident's entitlement to care.

A sense of humour is definitely an advantage!

Entry Requirements
There are no minimum educational requirements.  Personal qualities are more important.  Previous experience of work in a caring environment is required. Wardens often have backgrounds as care assistants or in residential social work. Having qualifications such as S/NVQs in Social Care may be an advantage when applying for a post.  Training is provided by individual councils, supplemented by attendance on short courses.  Wardens will normally be expected to obtain - and renew at stipulated intervals - certificates in health and hygiene, moving and handling and first aid.  In some areas local colleges offer courses leading to a Certificate or National Certificate 'Wardens for Sheltered Housing'.

Future Prospects & Opportunities
This is a career area with increasing opportunities.  More and more sheltered housing units are being constructed.

Further Information & Services
Care Council for Wales www.ccwales.org.uk
Community Service Volunteers www.csv.org.uk/socialhealthcare
Health & Care Professions Council www.hpc-uk.org

You may find further information about this area of work through Careers Wales (www.careerswales.com/) or in your local library, careers office or school careers library.

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