Hatfield care home residents suffer 'unbearable' conditions during heatwave

Councils advises people to take precautions during the heatwave we are set to experience in the coming week. 

Councils advises people to take precautions during the heatwave we are set to experience in the coming week. - Credit: Gerd Altmann

The son of a 91-year-old woman living in a Hatfield care home has hit out over the lack of water and air-conditioning during the heatwave.

Michael Hollingdale says his mum Vera, who lives in Glebe Court, was one of many vulnerable people at risk of health issues during the scorching heat.

Following water supply issues in the Hatfield area, the property remained without water in the bathroom and residents were advised that it could take up to five days to fix the problem.

It was only after Michael made repeated calls to Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council that they finally fixed the water issue, but as temperatures continued to soar the lack of air-conditioning at the flats was still a concern.

Glebe Court in Hatfield.

Glebe Court in Hatfield. - Credit: Google

Michael said he was less than happy with WHBC's response to his request for an aircon to be added in the communal room of the care home. 

“The flats at Glebe Court are like an oven on a normal summer's day - so the heat was unbearable during the heatwave. It appears to me that it is a no-brainer to install an inexpensive air-con unit in the communal room where the elderly residents can sit and protect themselves from the heat."

He emailed and called multiple councillors as well as MP Grant Shapps in the run-up to the peak temperatures of last week, and although he received several replies with promises to look into the issue further there were no straightforward promises of action. 

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“Cllr Larry Crofton wrote to me saying he would follow up but I haven't heard anything more. Grant's office said he'd written to the council on my behalf but I didn't hear anything more from Grant, his office or the council."

Michael finally spoke to the neighbourhood team and was told it is not council policy to install air-con units in sheltered housing complexes.

“I spoke to my mum on the Monday and the heat in her flat was already becoming unbearable. There is no warden on site, even part time. Apparently, he left about a month ago and has not been replaced.   

“My mum headed down to the communal area where she hoped the heat would not be as fierce. Some of the residents in the building are not even able to leave their flats without assistance. This is not a safe situation. 

“In the aftermath of the heatwave my mother was left exhausted, she had some heart palpitations on the Tuesday but was OK the next day. The communal area was unbearably hot and impossible to sit in for any length of time,."

According to Michael, the off-site deputy warden of Glebe Court had also spoken to Vera on the phone and said to contact her if needed: “This is nice but it does not compensate for a proper emergency response from the council,” Michael added. 

A WHBC spokesperson said this week: “We are doing everything that we can to ensure the safety and comfort of the residents at all of our 25 sheltered housing schemes during this unprecedented weather.   

“Installing permanent air-conditioning units in communal areas in all of our schemes is not feasible and the use of temporary air-conditioners would not be effective given the size and layout of these areas.  

“In line with Government advice, we have asked our residents to stay in their properties, with our Independent Living Officers increasing their contact with residents to check that they are OK, and give advice about keeping cool and hydrated.”