RESIDENTS of sheltered housing in Oxfordshire say cuts to the daily “door-knock” checks by a friendly warden are “disgusting”.

Until now, residents living in sheltered homes have received a daily visit to check they are okay.

Many see the service as a vital lifeline.

But changes to the mobile warden service are being phased in under Oxfordshire County Council’s new Alert Service.

Under the new contract, the frequency of visits to each resident will be based on an individual assessment.

The council said people with the greatest need could get more checks in future, while some might no longer receive any routine warden visits and would have to rely on a 24-hour emergency call-out service.

Residents at the George Moore Close sheltered housing complex, off Iffley Road, Oxford, said a daily visit was essential.

Bernard Wheeler, 88, said: “I want them to keep on. You can’t get a better service. You get all the help you need.”

Neighbour Anne Malwhinney, 80, said: “We think the cuts are disgusting. It’s a need, its not something frivolous. For some, the only person they see is the warden.”

Joe Eustace, 69, said the daily visits gave residents peace of mind.

“You might be lying there after a stroke and you won’t be found for a week. By the time you are, you’re dead,” he said.

“We need them seven days a week. It only takes 10 seconds to knock on the door.

“It’s just a ‘yes, thank you, I’m okay’ – it’s not half an hour for each person.”

City councillor David Williams is campaigning against the changes in the county council service and said the move would put vulnerable people at risk.

He added: “You need a friendly knock on the door to check people are okay and that’s the individual care that’s needed.”

The county council said thorough assessments of people’s needs would be carried out and that it would make sure that everybody who was assessed as having a need would receive help.

It added that all residents would in future have access to alarm and telecare equipment which, when activated, would connect them straight to a monitoring centre that is staffed 24 hours a day.

County council spokesman Paul Smith added: “We believe that the Alert Service will reflect the needs of more vulnerable people and offer a big improvement on the services that we’re currently able to offer.

“The system will aim to make sure that there are effective services to support people in their own homes all over Oxfordshire, and not just in selected areas, as the current contracts allow.”

He said Government funding for the services was being reduced year-on-year, from £17.9m for 2008-9 to £13.8m for 2013-14, a decision made by the then Government two years ago.

The Alert Service was launched in west Oxfordshire last month and is due to cover the whole county from October.