Handbook

Handbook
Information for Residents
The trust is a Registered Charity (no. 210365) administered by a body of trustees.
Almshouses are not subject to the Rent Acts and residents receive the benefit of the homes in accordance with the Charity Commissioners’ Scheme for the Regulation of the Charity. Residents are required to observe the rules and regulations for occupants of the Almshouses.Residents are required to make a weekly contribution to the costs of maintaining the almshouse. The Weekly Maintenance Contribution includes repairs and maintenance, warden services, gardening, external lighting etc..Repairs to the building, plumbing etc. will be carried out upon request to the warden, clerk or trustees.Residents who are in receipt of a low income and do not have a lot of savings or investments are advised to claim Housing and Council Tax Benefits from the Housing Benefit Section of the Gravesham Borough Council.

Services Provided

The Warden (back to top)
The Warden’s main duties are to act as a good neighbour to each of the residents and to look after the building. In an emergency it is the warden’s job to summon relatives or to call a doctor or other professional help that may be necessary. If you ever require temporary nursing care or the services of a home help the warden will help to arrange it.It is part of the warden’s job to check each day that all is well with the residents. The warden is not expected to undertake day-to-day care of any residents, nor, except in emergencies, to do shopping, collect pensions or prescriptions. Residents can often help each other by doing everyday tasks of this kind for one another, to supplement any help provided by relatives, friends, social services and other agencies. The warden has days off each week and an annual leave entitlement. During these periods a relief warden may be available.

Emergency Call System (back to top)
The warden is not on duty 24 hours a day, but will normally deal with emergencies when on site. The warden may be absent from home for short periods, e.g. to go shopping, and on these occasions an emergency call system may be switched over to the central control. You will be shown how to use the emergency call system when you move in. It will call the warden when he/she is on duty. When he/she is not, someone else will answer and get help to you quickly.
Please DO
use the call system by day or night to get help for a sudden illness
or accident.
Please DON’T
use the alarm to make normal contact with the warden.
tie up the pull cords or leave the alarm button on your bedside table. If you need help it may be out of reach.

Fire Precautions (back to top)
The almshouses comply with the appropriate fire regulations. Where a fire alarm system has been installed, the trustees will arrange with the Fire Officer for a fire drill from time to time and it is in everyone’s interest that you should co-operate fully on these occasions.
Please DO
ask the warden what to do if the alarm rings, or if you discover a fireask the warden how to use the fire blankets provided dispose of smoking materials safely
Please DON’T
wedge fire doors open; they prevent fire and smoke spreading only
when shut
leave pans (especially chip pans) unattended
attempt to fight any fire. Leave the premises immediately shutting
the door behind you

Communal Facilities (back to top)
A common room is for the use of all residents and their visitors for social and recreational activities or simply as a place to meet and talk. It is for you and your neighbours to decide what sort of activities you wish to arrange. There may be a residents’ committee to do this. The warden will give help and advice if asked and should be kept informed of future plans as the warden is responsible for the room.

Repairs and Decoration (back to top)
The charity is responsible for both external and internal repairs and decoration to your home and the communal parts. Please report all necessary work to the warden or clerk who will arrange for it to be carried out. You will be consulted in advance about arrangements for redecoration. Decorators, etc., will not be allowed to enter while you are out unless you have agreed to satisfactory arrangements and none should be admitted by you unless they can identify themselves.

Insurance (back to top)
The trustees insure the buildings but not your belongings.  You are advised to arrange household contents insurance for your own things.
We would strongly advise you not to keep more cash in your home than you need for your day-to-day expenses. Any additional cash should be placed in a bank or Building Society. Please do not ask the warden to take care of money for you as she/he has been instructed by the trustees not to do so.

Television (back to top)
A special concession may be available under which residents pay only £5 each per year for a television licence if they are retired and of pensionable age. Residents aged over 75 should, however, be eligible for a free licence. Please be considerate to your neighbours in the use of TVs, radios, CD players, musical instruments, etc.

Cleaning(back to top)
You are responsible for keeping your own flat clean. If you have any problem in doing this, please tell the warden who will contact the Social Services Department to see if help can be arranged for you.
You are responsible for cleaning the inside of the windows in your flat, but the trustees employ a window cleaner who cleans the outside of all windows, the inside of the windows in the Lodge and, once a year, the uPVC fascias, soffits, rainwater goods, etc…
Cleaning of the lounge and general areas is also arranged by the trustees. The cost of this may be included in your Weekly Maintenance Charge.

Gardens (back to top)
The garden has been laid out for the use and benefit of all residents. Offers of help from you (or your relatives) in keeping the gardens looking attractive are welcome, subject to certain guidelines being followed.

Security (back to top)
Everyone living in the scheme should have an interest in the general security.
DO
keep your front door locked at all times.
DON’T
allow a stranger to enter your home without proof of identity.
assist a stranger to enter the site without proof of identity.
You must not fit locks and chains without the trustees’ consent as these may delay access in an emergency. The trustees may be able to advise on alternative security arrangements.
Your privacy will be respected. The warden has strict instructions only to enter your home – if you ask him or her to if you have given permission for work to be done in your absence in an emergency.
Additional keys should not be cut without the consent of the trustees as this would give access to people other than residents and might endanger security if they were lost.

Terms of Occupancy

Licence to occupy (back to top)
You will have a copy of the licence to occupy which you signed when you were appointed a resident. As a beneficiary of an almshouse charity you are not a tenant, but the trustees cannot ask you to leave unless there are exceptional circumstances (see” Moving Out” page 8). You have agreed to pay a Weekly Maintenance Contribution which includes an amount for the services provided.

Relatives and visitors (back to top)
Whilst the warden is generally on hand to keep a friendly eye on residents in case of accident or illness, he or she cannot take the place of relatives or friends. We hope they will give you just the same support as they would if you were living in ordinary housing. With their help and co-operation, and support from Social Services if necessary, we hope you will find it possible to remain independent for as long as you wish.
Your home has been specially designed as sheltered housing for elderly people and is not really suitable for the accommodation of anyone extra.

Absence from home (back to top)
If you go away for any period please inform the warden or clerk in case there is an emergency. It may be advisable to take precautions against frost by turning off and draining the water system. This action may prevent damage. Absence for more than 28 days requires prior approval of the trustees.

Residents consultation (back to top)
The trustees will seek your comments on any important change in the running of the scheme. Meetings will be held periodically to discuss all matters that are of concern to residents.

Weekly Maintenance Contribution (W.M.C.) (back to top)
The W.M.C. is due each Monday in advance and you pay at the Warden’s Office. You will be given a month’s notice of any increase.
The amount you pay covers part of the cost of running the almshouses and includes:-
Repairs and maintenance Warden’s salaries
Insurance
Upkeep of the gardens
Cleaning of communal areas
Emergency call system

Housing Benefit (back to top)
If your income consists of the basic retirement pension and you have little or no capital you will almost certainly be entitled to Housing and Council Tax Benefits to help you with your housing costs. To claim these Benefits you should ask for a form from the Benefits Section of Gravesham Borough Council.
If you do have some additional income to your basic retirement pension you may still be entitled to some help with your housing costs and again you are advised to obtain the form from the Council and apply.
Your warden or clerk will be pleased to help if you are unsure of your entitlement.

Heating and hot water (back to top)
Heating is by gas central heating and is supplemented by a wall mounted gas fire in the lounge. In the interests of safety, of yourself and other residents, paraffin or calor gas heaters are forbidden. Electric fires are also forbidden.

Moving Out (back to top)
If you wish to move from the almshouses you must give the trustees four weeks written notice. During this notice period you will be liable for your W.M.C. payments even if you have already moved out.
In the event of prolonged ill-health, the trustees may advise seeking alternative suitable accommodation in consultation with your relatives and the Social Services. The trustees can only repossess your home if you persistently and without reasonable excuse disregard the regulations, behave offensively or become disqualified from retaining the appointment. You are reminded of the terms of your licence to occupy.

General Information

Council Tax (back to top)
Each Resident is responsible for paying Council Tax to Gravesham Borough Council. You will receive a bill telling you how to pay. If you are the sole occupant then make sure that you receive the 25% reduction to which you are entitled.

Improvements and alterations to accommodation (back to top)
If you want to decorate or make any improvement or alteration to your accommodation, such as fitted cupboards, you must discuss the work first with the trustees. In some cases the Charity will pay for the work. Permission may be refused if the trustees consider that the alteration will reduce the amenities for subsequent occupants. Wallpapering is not permitted.

Pets (back to top)
Problems can sometimes arise over pets, especially in flats. For this reason, no pets are allowed.

Parking of vehicles (back to top)
Spaces for cars are provided in the designated areas. Please do not park vehicles elsewhere or allow your visitors to do so. They may block the way for ambulances or fire engines in an emergency.

Doctor (back to top)
If you already have your own doctor in the locality there is no need to make any change. If you do not have a doctor, or you are moving from another area, the warden will be able to give you the names of other doctors working in the neighbourhood who are interested in the care of elderly people.
You have every right to see your doctor, nurse or other carer alone, and to keep your medical affairs entirely to yourself if you wish. However, if you have a chronic health problem, you may feel safer if the warden knows about it so that sensible action may be taken in an emergency. Anything you tell the warden will be kept confidential.

Emergencies and sickness (back to top)
If you are ill or in difficulties, the warden or trustees will make every effort to get in touch with relatives, friends, the doctor, ambulance or social services on your behalf.
To make it possible to act quickly, the warden or trustees need to have a note of the name and address of your nearest relatives or friends and of your doctor. It is important that you should also let them know about any changes of address or telephone number of your relatives or friends and of your doctor.

Personal problems (back to top)
If you have any personal problems over money or any other matter and you have no family or friend who you feel able to consult, the trustees will be glad to give whatever help or advice they can. Let the warden know if you wish to see a trustee at any time.

Wills (back to top)
You are strongly advised to make a Will. If you wish to leave personal property to a relative or friend a Will is essential. A solicitor is the best person to help you make a Will, and if you require assistance in finding one, we suggest you contact your local Citizens’ Advice Bureau. Ask the warden if you find this difficult.

Complaints procedure (back to top)
If you have a complaint, you should talk to the warden, the clerk or a trustee. In the event that it is not settled to your satisfaction, you should refer directly to the chairman of the trustees (address and telephone number on front cover). For charities, such as Pinnock’s which are registered housing associations, residents have the right to refer complaints, which cannot be resolved by the charity’s own complaints procedure, to the Independent Housing Ombudsman Limited at Norman House, 105-109 Strand, London, WC2R OAA, Telephone 0207-836-3630.

Rubbish (back to top)
Rubbish bins are provided. Please make sure that the rubbish area is kept clean and tidy. All kitchen refuse should be wrapped before putting in the bin.

Regulations

WHEREAS under and by virtue of Clauses 20 and 42 of the Scheme of the Board of Charity Commissioners for England and Wales, made on the 29th June 1982 the Trustees of the above mentioned Charity are empowered to make and prescribe regulations for the conduct of their business and the government of the Almspeople.
Now the Trustees accordingly, and under and by virtue of every other power them enabling, make and prescribe the following REGULATIONS FOR ALMSPERSONS (hereinafter called RESIDENTS) and WARDENS.

  1. No Resident shall carry on any trade, business or profession whatsoever in any Almshouses or place belonging to the Charities or elsewhere without the consent in writing of the Trustees or their Secretary.
  2. No Resident shall keep any dog, cat, mouse, guineapig, rabbit, poultry, bird or animal whatever in any Almshouse, or place belonging to the Charities. Residents shall so use their rooms (and particularly their television or wireless sets) as to cause no nuisance or annoyance to their neighbours.
  3. Every Resident shall keep himself and herself, his or her rooms, and the bathroom and W.C. and outside sink drain, the portion of the corridor and the staircase adjoining the same, clean and wholesome and shall carry all his or her house and other refuse to the place provided for its reception and shall do and suffer no damage (beyond careful wear) to his or her rooms or any other property of the Charity.
  4. No Resident shall place or allow to remain any chattel in any corridor or under the verandah, or in any other part of the property of the Charity, except in the room or rooms occupied by such Resident.
  5. Every Resident shall take every reasonable precaution to prevent fire occurring upon any property of the Charity.
  6. No paraffin or combustible oil shall be used or kept in the Almshouses. Any defects in gas appliances or any escapes of gas must immediately be reported to the Wardens or the Deputy Warden.
  7. The Residents shall render such assistance to each other as within their power.
  8. Every Resident shall turn off his or her electric light whilst his or her room is unoccupied.
    Any Resident causing a waste of electricity will be held liable for the cost of the waste.
  9. No food shall be placed or allowed to remain in the passages of the Almshouses or in the gardens or anywhere on the Charity’s property except in the proper containers.
  10. Doors must not be locked in any way which would prevent entrance by the Wardens.
  11. If a doctor’s attendance is required the Warden should be notified before 9.00 a.m. except in an emergency.
  12. No Resident shall be absent from the Almshouses for a period exceeding one month without the consent in writing of the Trustees or their Secretary. In special cases such consent, for any sufficient reason, may be given retrospectively, after the absence has occurred.
  13. No Resident shall be permitted to let or part with the possession of the rooms allotted for him or her except with special permission from the Trustees by their Clerk. No Resident shall suffer any person to share the occupation of the same or any part thereof.
  14. In order to facilitate the carrying out of repairs or redecorations or the structural alterations of a block or blocks of the Almshouses, the Trustees may, in writing signed by their Clerk, require a Resident to give up possession of the room or rooms allotted to him or her and to remove all chattels therefrom, to other accommodation which the Trustees allot him or her. In default the Trustees may dispossess him or her and remove the said chattels aforesaid.
  15. If in the opinion of the Trustees any Resident has become so infirm or disabled as to be incapable of looking after himself or herself, then in the event of the Resident or some near relative of such Resident or other responsible person on whom the Resident has relied not being able to make suitable alternative arrangements, an application shall be made to the Medical Authorities with a view to the Resident being transferred to a County Old Persons Home or similar Institution. The Resident’s chattels shall be removed from the rooms to restore a vacancy.
  16. The Warden shall take charge of the Lodge and Board Room Buildings, Gardens and Chattels belonging to the Charity and shall keep the same in good order and condition.
  17. The Deputy Warden when appointed shall in the absence of the Wardens stand in as Warden.
  18. The Wardens shall satisfy themselves that the Residents are duly observing and performing the regulations of the Charity and shall report  non-observance  or non-performance thereof to the Chairman of the Trustees or the Clerk if serious inconvenience or discomfort is caused to other Residents.
  19. The Wardens shall attend upon the Trustees and their Clerk and all their Committees whenever required so to do, and shall obey their and his orders.
  20. The Wardens shall upon the death of any Resident give notice to near relatives or other party upon whom the Resident relied of the death of the deceased and to the Clerk of the Trustees. The Wardens shall take charge of the key of the room or rooms when the representative of the deceased is not therein.

by ORDER of the Trustees at a Meeting held in the Board Room of St. Thomas’s Almshouses on the 28th June 1991.
Trustees
J.G. May Chairman

J.F. Little Vice-Chairman

Mrs. C.G. Sparrow

D.J. Bone

C. Frend-Morris

J.W. Lovell

Hon. Treasurer – P. W. Nebbs

Clerk and Hon. Secretary – C.P. Crowhurst