Birmingham City Council

FAQ Services for Older People

What do you mean by ‘services for older people’?
‘Services for older people’ refers to our housing and support services for residents of Birmingham aged 50 and over.

These Frequently Asked Questions explain what we can offer and how we can support you (or your relatives).

What is sheltered housing?
What is extra care sheltered housing?
Why should I consider sheltered housing or extra care sheltered housing?
What is the role of the support officer?
Will I be involved in determining the level of support I need?
What is housing related support?
What do I need to pay for my housing?
Can I get help in paying service charges?
What do I need to pay for my support?
Can I get help in paying support charges?
How do I get support in emergency situations?
What support can I get if I do not live in sheltered accommodation?
Is Careline free?
How is the Careline alarm fitted in my home? Do I need special equipment?
What happens when I use my Careline alarm?
What if I press my Careline alarm by mistake?
I’m worried that my equipment isn’t working. What do I do?
What do I do when I no longer require an alarm?
Can I become more involved in helping to monitor your services for older people?
How else can I share my views on your services for older people?
Who do I contact if I have any more questions about services for older people?

What is sheltered housing?
Sheltered housing schemes are aimed at people aged 50 years or over who can usually manage on their own, but feel safer knowing that they can receive support when they need it. The types of support offered include:

  • supporting someone to access the right benefits
  • liaising with other agencies, such as Adults and Communities, to access care
  • supporting to someone to access wellbeing activities such as a falls prevention programme.

There are sheltered housing schemes across Birmingham of many different types, including:

  • High rise schemes – these are high rise blocks that have been designated as sheltered housing schemes. They are generally for people over the age of 50 who may or may not have support needs.
  • Category I schemes – these are generally purpose built schemes with properties built around a communal lounge. However, we do have some schemes that were not purpose built but have now been designated as sheltered housing. These schemes are allocated to people over the age of 55 who may or may not have support needs.
  • Category II schemes – these are all purpose built schemes where the properties are linked by a corridor to a communal lounge. Facilities include: laundry provision, communal activities and, in some cases, hairdressing and library facilities. These schemes are allocated to people over the age of 55 who have support needs.

What is extra care sheltered housing?
These special sheltered housing schemes are aimed at people aged 60 years or over with support needs and some care needs. These schemes allow residents to live independently but give them access to care and support services on-site. The facilities include a communal lounge, hairdressing, library services and assisted bathrooms.

Why should I consider sheltered housing or extra care sheltered housing?
You will have access to tailored support. When you first come into sheltered housing, a support officer will visit you to help you to create a support plan that meets your needs.

These schemes also allow you to be part of a community and have a home for life.

What is the role of the support officer?
The support officer can help you with:

  • applying for benefits and grants
  • joining in social and leisure activities
  • accessing a range of services such as your GP, homecare and meals services.

Will I be involved in determining the level of support I need?
Your support officer will sit down with you every six months to assess your support needs; they will meet with you sooner if your needs change. You will be fully involved in this process and can involve a friend or relative if you wish, and you can have a copy of all your paperwork.

What is housing related support?
Housing related support includes the visits you receive from your support officer and any tasks that the support officer carries out on your behalf to enable you to live independently in your home. These tasks might include:

  • making referrals to Adults and Communities for home care
  • arranging the Meals Direct service for you
  • arranging adaptations to your property
  • contacting your GP or health professionals
  • making referrals to befriending services and other voluntary organisations

What do I need to pay for my housing?
Residents living in sheltered housing, like any tenants, pay rent for the property. You will also need to pay service charges. These cover the maintenance of communal areas, such as carpets, furniture and decorating, as well as bills such as gas, electricity and water.

Can I get help in paying service charges?
If you receive partial or full housing benefit then any increase in service charge will be covered by this.

If you are currently not claiming any housing benefit and would like to discuss this with a benefits advisor, you should contact your local neighbourhood office.

What do I need to pay for my support?
You will need to pay support charges. These cover the costs associated with the support officer’s role and the support given to you.

Can I get help in paying support charges?
Yes, you can. If you receive any of the following benefits you will be able to get help with support charges:

  • state retirement pension
  • attendance allowance
  • council tax benefit
  • housing benefit
  • income support
  • pensions credit
  • job seekers allowance
  • disability living allowance
  • incapacity benefit

How do I get support in emergency situations?
Careline is an emergency response service, which operates 24 hours a day, throughout the year. It provides peace of mind to older people, those who are vulnerable and individuals with a disability.

Careline can be contacted at any time by pressing a pendant worn around the neck or directly through the alarm unit.

If you live in one of Birmingham's sheltered housing schemes, the Careline service is accessed by pulling a cord.

What support can I get if I do not live in sheltered accommodation?
We can carry out an assessment to determine your support needs, and then we can discuss some of the ways we can help you. To arrange an assessment please telephone our Services for Older People team on 0121 303 4135.

In addition, anyone who feels vulnerable or has a disability can apply to have a Careline alarm fitted, whether you live in sheltered accommodation or not. To apply for a Careline alarm, contact your local neighbourhood office or telephone Careline on 0121 303 4205.

Is Careline free?
There is a small service charge for use of the Careline service – just £1.76 a week. This includes all installation, maintenance and monitoring costs.

If you live in a sheltered property, there is a charge of £2.18 included in your weekly rent to cover the monitoring of the alarm, the testing of it and the maintenance of the alarm system.

How is the Careline alarm fitted in my home? Do I need special equipment?
Your Careline alarm will need to use a telephone line and an electrical socket, and provides a direct link to our Careline staff. No wiring is needed, but we will ensure that your alarm is fully fitted by a member of our staff.

You can alert Careline directly from the alarm unit or from a pendant that can be worn around your neck. When you do this, your telephone automatically dials and connects to the Careline control centre. You don’t have to be near your telephone to speak to the operator.

What happens when I use my Careline alarm?
When you sign up for Careline, we record your personal details as well as names and addresses of any people who would be able to respond with a key in the event of an emergency. If you use your alarm, we will contact one of your nominated persons and/or the emergency services, as appropriate.

What if I press my Careline alarm by mistake?
Don’t worry – just tell the operator that you activated the alarm by mistake and that you are okay.

I’m worried that my equipment isn’t working. What do I do?
We ask you to make a test call every month so that we can make sure your equipment is working. You just need to press your pendant and tell the operator that you are making a test call. If there are any faults, they will be picked up at the control centre and we will arrange for them to be fixed. If for any reason your test call doesn’t work, you can contact the Careline team on 0121 303 4205.

What do I do when I no longer require an alarm?
It is important that you arrange to return your alarms and Careline equipment to us when they are no longer needed. Please have your alarms delivered to your local neighbourhood office or directly to the Careline team at Support Services for Older People, Careline Services, PO BOX 15839, Queensway, Birmingham, B2 2RP. We can also arrange to collect your equipment for you – to request this, please telephone us on 0121 303 4205.

Can I become more involved in helping to monitor your services for older people?
Yes you can – we value feedback from customers as it helps us to improve and develop our services. Occasionally, you may be asked to complete a questionnaire or survey on the service you receive from us.

If you live in sheltered housing, you can also get involved through District Sheltered Housing Liaison Boards (SHLBs). The SHLBs meet to discuss and debate policies and procedures relating to the service. If you would like to get involved, please speak to your support officer or telephone the Services for Older People team on 0121 303 4135.

You can also get involved in our Careline user group, please contact 0121 303 4205

How else can I share my views on your services for older people?
Please email your comments to contact@birmingham.gov.uk, or write a letter to Support Services for Older People, PO BOX 15839, Queensway, Birmingham, B2 2RP.


Who do I contact if I have any more questions about services for older people?
Please telephone our Services for Older People team on 0121 303 4135.