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AIBU or is my elderly MIL's Housing Association?

(48 Posts)
alpacawhacker Mon 23-Jan-17 20:49:32

My MIL is 78 and has dementia. She lives in an assisted living flat owned by a housing association.

About three times now in the last six months we have had a phone call from her to say she's on the floor and can't get up and we've had to go round and pick her up. Fortunately on all of these occasions she has been in the front room and managed to drag herself across the room to the phone although she did fall once before in the garden and break her wrist but managed that time to get herself up. I think it's fair to say she has a history of falls. She also fell before she moved to this flat and broke her hip; this precipitated the move since she was in a first floor flat with no lift before. (She does have a pendant btw but sometimes she forgets to put it on, sometimes she loses it in the flat and sometimes she just can't remember what it's for.)

She has the kind of front door where you pull the handle up and lock it with a key. Recently she has started leaving the key in the lock, which means it can't be unlocked by us from the outside in an emergency. All our attempts to get her not to do this have been in vain. We also wanted to get a keysafe for emergency services in case she falls when we are not at home, otherwise we can't go very far at all but, obviously, if she's left her key in the door that will be useless.

We contacted her HA to request they change her lock for safety reasons to one where you just turn a knob inside to lock it instead of using a key and they said it's chargeable. Ok. But they want to charge her £180 just to come and look at it! She's on a state pension and has no savings to speak of so this would be a lot of money to her. They also said that they have to do it, we can't do it ourselves or get someone else to do it and, what's more, if the door has to get kicked in because she's on the floor and locked in, she'll be charged for that too.

AIBU to be completely gobsmacked by this? Or are they BU? And if it's not me, any idea what my next move should be??

HelenaDove Mon 23-Jan-17 20:52:31

£180. Bloody hell.

HelenaDove Mon 23-Jan-17 20:53:23

Which HA is it?

alpacawhacker Mon 23-Jan-17 20:55:02

It's called Orbit Helena.

HelenaDove Mon 23-Jan-17 20:58:10

Im pretty sure they are on Twitter.

hootatoot Mon 23-Jan-17 20:58:27

There is no reason why they have to do it. Id ask them for the specification that they would fit to and request permission formally in writing (email is fine) for you to get a professional locksmith to do it on your mums behalf. Alternatively, depending on your local authority, it might be something they may assist you in getting sorted via social services.

ExcitedMamaToBe Mon 23-Jan-17 20:59:54

That's ridiculous! You could get a completely new door with the type of lock you want for way less than £180, and a few spare keys cut too

alpacawhacker Mon 23-Jan-17 21:01:38

The thought of kicking up a fuss on Twitter is making me cringe! I might keep that idea in reserve as a last resort.

DrivingMeBonkers Mon 23-Jan-17 21:04:39

Orbit will have a contract with a locksmith. That will be the call out, parts and labour price. If you use one of your won choosing it is possible you will invalidate the insurance or the guarantee on the door (I assume it is a UPVC double glazed item).

HemanOrSheRa Mon 23-Jan-17 21:04:42

What sort of service, if any, do the HA provide as part of the assisted living? Does a warden visit? If so then it is in the HA's interest to sort this out. Is the lock mastersuited so a warden/support worker can access? Those locks ARE expensive but there is no reason why you can't change the lock and provide them with a key/access to keysafe if necessary.

misscarlar Mon 23-Jan-17 21:07:54

I had a door that key locked on both sides I live in a HA property and needed something else doing with the door ( can't remember exactly what) the workman said my door was against regulations as in a fire I wouldn't be able to get out. It was changed a day later

alpacawhacker Mon 23-Jan-17 21:08:17

Yes it is UPVC.

The HA has a warden who is onsite during office hours. She calls my MIL every weekday morning through her alarm system linked to her pendant to ask if she's alright. If MIL doesn't answer, she phones us. That's it.

PinkFluffiUnicorn Mon 23-Jan-17 21:08:45

We used to stay in a HA house, the way they word things like this anoy me, you will need to check her lease etc, but I was able to get alterations & diy done by signing a letter saying it had been done by a reasonable person? Not sure what that means but it was how we got around it. Also might be worth asking social services or an OT to give advice?

dangermouseisace Mon 23-Jan-17 21:18:46

They are being completely unreasonable.

I'm not a lawyer or a legal person, but surely under the Equalities Act 2000 they have a duty to make 'reasonable adjustments'. According to the CAB website that includes door/entry systems I found that here

Maybe phone and quote it to them?

dangermouseisace Mon 23-Jan-17 21:19:32

NB dementia would be classified as a disability.

dangermouseisace Mon 23-Jan-17 21:20:04

sorry act was 2010...

HemanOrSheRa Mon 23-Jan-17 21:20:26

It's very unlikely there is any sort of guarantee on the door. I work for a local authority. New windows/doors don't have the usual 10 year or whatever guarantee. Anyway, I still say the HA need to sort this out. There is a possibility that something could happen to your MIL and you will not be able to gain access without a significant delay. It would be the HA's fault for making it prohibitively expensive.

Nomorechickens Mon 23-Jan-17 21:22:35

For comparison, our locksmith charges £50 labour to change a lock (London prices).

alpacawhacker Mon 23-Jan-17 21:22:43

DrivingMeBonkers, I think the guarantee on the door will probably be the issue then because they changed it not so long ago. I wish they'd left the old one that had a Yale lock but I suppose there would be nothing to stop her putting the snib on.

I think my next port of call is going to have to be her social worker. Maybe also time to start thinking about putting her name down for sheltered housing.

DJBaggySmalls Mon 23-Jan-17 21:25:09

Its easy to open the door from the outside if the key is in the lock. You just use a screwdriver and some superglue.
So the house is not secure when she does that. If you put a sign on the door to remind her would she stop doing it? Its dangerous.

alpacawhacker Mon 23-Jan-17 21:25:19

Dangermouse, is there a definition of "reasonable"? I'd have to have a read of the act I think.

Lunde Mon 23-Jan-17 21:25:58

Can you get social service to assess her situation and support needs?

alpacawhacker Mon 23-Jan-17 21:27:32

DJ... screwdriver and superglue? Er, how? confused

She ignores most of our signs.

user1484226561 Mon 23-Jan-17 21:34:32

orbit re hopeless, have several times taken more than a year to respond to a complaint, ineffective, ridiculous unbelievable prices which they seem to decide by sticking a pin in a phone directory, spending our money on silly "community projects" ie offereing basic education to young people who I have already paid for basic education for, through my taxes, and they decided not to partake....

needmymouthsewnup Mon 23-Jan-17 21:38:29

I know this isn't what you asked, but if she has dementia and is falling a lot and forgetting what her pendant is for, do you think perhaps she might be safer in a different environment, more like a nursing home set up? My FIL's DM also has dementia (although hers is far more severe) but it's been very handy for them knowing that there is always a nurse on hand to help with everything.

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