Weymouth widow tells of 'year of hell' as flats are demolished

Widow Pam Donovan

‘MY YEAR OF HELL’: The demolition of flats in Radipole Court

First published in News by

A WIDOW who lost her husband and her home in a ‘year of hell’ has criticised landlords for ‘inhumane’ treatment after being forced to live amid a building site.

Pam Donovan is among elderly tenants of Radipole Court sheltered housing scheme in Weymouth who have had to leave their homes so the site can be redeveloped.

It is part of a borough-wide improvement programme by Synergy Housing to replace ageing accommodation and create new homes.

But uncertainty about the future, the stress of finding somewhere else to live and leaving the close-knit community of Radipole Court affected many tenants Mrs Donovan claimed, including her husband Michael who died suddenly last year aged 75.

A letter informing her the tenancy had ended arrived on the day of his funeral.

Mrs Donovan has yet to be found a suitable new flat and has been given temporary accommodation in the last remaining block at Radipole Court while the site around her is flattened.

Mrs Donovan, one of a handful of tenants left on the Fernhill Avenue site, claims the accommodation is unsuitable as diggers work throughout the day, sometimes coming just yards from her window.

“Not only have I had to put up with the dust and the noise, I have had to witness the home I shared with my husband for 11 happy years and the community we lived in razed to the ground,” she said.

Mrs Donovan, 69, added: “Not one of my neighbours wanted to move out.

“It was a lovely spot with trees, and there was a social club for residents. We should have spent our last days there.

“Residents were made ill by the thought of having to leave and some have since died.

“It’s inhumane how we’ve been treated.”

Mrs Donavan added: “I’ve been through a year of hell with Michael dying and trying to find a new home.

“He had been a fit and healthy man but his blood pressure was up with the stress.

“Then he died suddenly after having an aneurysm.

“I’ve been put in another flat on site but all around us has been demolished.

“There are other people living here who are not well.

“It’s totally unsuitable.

“It’s not fair to keep elderly people in these conditions.”

Comments (7)

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1:18pm Fri 4 Apr 14

anika says...

I can thoroughly recommend Anchor Housing. My mother lived in one of their flats for years and loved it. Try contacting Holly Court or George Thorne House in Weymouth.

My mother was offered a flat at Radipole Court living years ago - she didn't even go to look at it as there was no lift. She was registered disabled and she was told the bathroom was outside the front door! No wonder they've been knocked down. Still a dreadful way to treat elderly people.

I hope you find peace soon Pam.
I can thoroughly recommend Anchor Housing. My mother lived in one of their flats for years and loved it. Try contacting Holly Court or George Thorne House in Weymouth. My mother was offered a flat at Radipole Court living years ago - she didn't even go to look at it as there was no lift. She was registered disabled and she was told the bathroom was outside the front door! No wonder they've been knocked down. Still a dreadful way to treat elderly people. I hope you find peace soon Pam. anika
  • Score: 4

1:43pm Fri 4 Apr 14

Micke12 says...

I sympathise with you Pam and I am sorry for your loss.

But what else do you expect Synergy Housing to do. They are caught between a rock and a hard place. The buildings were not suitable for purpose, with no lifts and everything else that was wrong in today's environment that senior citizens have a right to expect when they go into warden controlled or sheltered accommodation in their later years.

I don't think for a moment that it would have been on Synergy's mind to stop having new tenants as the older one's passed, and then when all the tenants have passed away, close the whole building down and demolish it. Whilst that idea would have had merit socially, it would not have had merit in a business sense as some of the residents could have lived for another 20 years or more, whilst year on year, less tenants would be living there due to departing this world, and Synergy would be losing money each and every week that those individual properties were not in use - it does not make business sense.

I know and appreciate that you would all have had your friends their and you social club, but in reality, the buildings had ceased to be suitable for purpose and it is right that the building be replaced in order to make the facilities better.

What would have happened if the buildings were left as they were and something like a building collapse had occurred. Then we would all be shouting from the rooftops as to why nothing was done.

Unfortunately, because of the way a lot of the elderly are, Synergy Housing was in a lose-lose situation.

I think the best that you can hope for Pam, is to see the new buildings go up around you, and then, at a suitable time when they are completed, you will be able to move in to a bright and light building, fit for purpose with all mod-cons and better warden communications systems in the event that you get into trouble by say falling over in your flat.

I am not being harsh and I do not work for Synergy or the local authorities, but surely you can understand the quandary that Synergy are in.

I again, sympathise for your loss of your husband, but accept that change must happen, even if it upsets you and the other residents.
I sympathise with you Pam and I am sorry for your loss. But what else do you expect Synergy Housing to do. They are caught between a rock and a hard place. The buildings were not suitable for purpose, with no lifts and everything else that was wrong in today's environment that senior citizens have a right to expect when they go into warden controlled or sheltered accommodation in their later years. I don't think for a moment that it would have been on Synergy's mind to stop having new tenants as the older one's passed, and then when all the tenants have passed away, close the whole building down and demolish it. Whilst that idea would have had merit socially, it would not have had merit in a business sense as some of the residents could have lived for another 20 years or more, whilst year on year, less tenants would be living there due to departing this world, and Synergy would be losing money each and every week that those individual properties were not in use - it does not make business sense. I know and appreciate that you would all have had your friends their and you social club, but in reality, the buildings had ceased to be suitable for purpose and it is right that the building be replaced in order to make the facilities better. What would have happened if the buildings were left as they were and something like a building collapse had occurred. Then we would all be shouting from the rooftops as to why nothing was done. Unfortunately, because of the way a lot of the elderly are, Synergy Housing was in a lose-lose situation. I think the best that you can hope for Pam, is to see the new buildings go up around you, and then, at a suitable time when they are completed, you will be able to move in to a bright and light building, fit for purpose with all mod-cons and better warden communications systems in the event that you get into trouble by say falling over in your flat. I am not being harsh and I do not work for Synergy or the local authorities, but surely you can understand the quandary that Synergy are in. I again, sympathise for your loss of your husband, but accept that change must happen, even if it upsets you and the other residents. Micke12
  • Score: 36

2:35pm Fri 4 Apr 14

MrTomSmith says...

Are you sure you don't work for them Mickle12 ? Well there best PR salesman couldn't have put a better case forward. This is rubbish, however nice you put it. I am sure we all understand change, but that's not the point of this article at all, you missed it. The lady is a completely UNSUITABLE accommodation RIGHT NOW She has been treated poorly and needs a better place to live. It is simple to work out the answer. Not give the lady a load of flannel, it doesn't wash!!
Are you sure you don't work for them Mickle12 ? Well there best PR salesman couldn't have put a better case forward. This is rubbish, however nice you put it. I am sure we all understand change, but that's not the point of this article at all, you missed it. The lady is a completely UNSUITABLE accommodation RIGHT NOW She has been treated poorly and needs a better place to live. It is simple to work out the answer. Not give the lady a load of flannel, it doesn't wash!! MrTomSmith
  • Score: -24

3:02pm Fri 4 Apr 14

JamesYoung says...

MrTomSmith wrote:
Are you sure you don't work for them Mickle12 ? Well there best PR salesman couldn't have put a better case forward. This is rubbish, however nice you put it. I am sure we all understand change, but that's not the point of this article at all, you missed it. The lady is a completely UNSUITABLE accommodation RIGHT NOW She has been treated poorly and needs a better place to live. It is simple to work out the answer. Not give the lady a load of flannel, it doesn't wash!!
On the contrary, i think Mickle12 is completely right. Synergy are in a lose-lose position. I too feel very sorry for Pam, but new care standards mean new expectations and Synergy could not simply keep loading the building with new residents, neither could they allow the number of residents to drop while waiting for the last one to pass away, because of a soaring "cost per resident".
[quote][p][bold]MrTomSmith[/bold] wrote: Are you sure you don't work for them Mickle12 ? Well there best PR salesman couldn't have put a better case forward. This is rubbish, however nice you put it. I am sure we all understand change, but that's not the point of this article at all, you missed it. The lady is a completely UNSUITABLE accommodation RIGHT NOW She has been treated poorly and needs a better place to live. It is simple to work out the answer. Not give the lady a load of flannel, it doesn't wash!![/p][/quote]On the contrary, i think Mickle12 is completely right. Synergy are in a lose-lose position. I too feel very sorry for Pam, but new care standards mean new expectations and Synergy could not simply keep loading the building with new residents, neither could they allow the number of residents to drop while waiting for the last one to pass away, because of a soaring "cost per resident". JamesYoung
  • Score: 30

4:03pm Fri 4 Apr 14

Woodgate says...

JamesYoung wrote:
MrTomSmith wrote:
Are you sure you don't work for them Mickle12 ? Well there best PR salesman couldn't have put a better case forward. This is rubbish, however nice you put it. I am sure we all understand change, but that's not the point of this article at all, you missed it. The lady is a completely UNSUITABLE accommodation RIGHT NOW She has been treated poorly and needs a better place to live. It is simple to work out the answer. Not give the lady a load of flannel, it doesn't wash!!
On the contrary, i think Mickle12 is completely right. Synergy are in a lose-lose position. I too feel very sorry for Pam, but new care standards mean new expectations and Synergy could not simply keep loading the building with new residents, neither could they allow the number of residents to drop while waiting for the last one to pass away, because of a soaring "cost per resident".
I don't think Micke 12's comment could have been any more reasonable, sympathetic and understanding. It is unfortunate, but commonplace, that articles such as this, with deliberately provocative headlines, portray an organisation trying to do the right thing as somehow bad. Can you imagine the stick that Synergy would get if it did nothing ?I've no doubt that every effort has been and continues to be made to meet Pam's needs at this difficult time. Synergy should be commended for trying to meet the needs of the community. Its nice to see such investment - in marked contrast to the WPBC controlled property.
[quote][p][bold]JamesYoung[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]MrTomSmith[/bold] wrote: Are you sure you don't work for them Mickle12 ? Well there best PR salesman couldn't have put a better case forward. This is rubbish, however nice you put it. I am sure we all understand change, but that's not the point of this article at all, you missed it. The lady is a completely UNSUITABLE accommodation RIGHT NOW She has been treated poorly and needs a better place to live. It is simple to work out the answer. Not give the lady a load of flannel, it doesn't wash!![/p][/quote]On the contrary, i think Mickle12 is completely right. Synergy are in a lose-lose position. I too feel very sorry for Pam, but new care standards mean new expectations and Synergy could not simply keep loading the building with new residents, neither could they allow the number of residents to drop while waiting for the last one to pass away, because of a soaring "cost per resident".[/p][/quote]I don't think Micke 12's comment could have been any more reasonable, sympathetic and understanding. It is unfortunate, but commonplace, that articles such as this, with deliberately provocative headlines, portray an organisation trying to do the right thing as somehow bad. Can you imagine the stick that Synergy would get if it did nothing ?I've no doubt that every effort has been and continues to be made to meet Pam's needs at this difficult time. Synergy should be commended for trying to meet the needs of the community. Its nice to see such investment - in marked contrast to the WPBC controlled property. Woodgate
  • Score: 29

5:05pm Fri 4 Apr 14

MaidofDorset says...

In a couple of years time there will be a load of up to date flats with lots of features to make life easier for the elderly so they can stay in their homes, near their neighbours, the local shops etc. for as long as possible. Isn't that what most of us want?

The elderly population of Weymouth is growing rapidly and with pressure on housing it makes sense to have lots more high quality old folks and disabled housing which will free up family homes. You can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs.
In a couple of years time there will be a load of up to date flats with lots of features to make life easier for the elderly so they can stay in their homes, near their neighbours, the local shops etc. for as long as possible. Isn't that what most of us want? The elderly population of Weymouth is growing rapidly and with pressure on housing it makes sense to have lots more high quality old folks and disabled housing which will free up family homes. You can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs. MaidofDorset
  • Score: 15

10:44am Sun 6 Apr 14

Micke12 says...

MrTomSmith wrote:
Are you sure you don't work for them Mickle12 ? Well there best PR salesman couldn't have put a better case forward. This is rubbish, however nice you put it. I am sure we all understand change, but that's not the point of this article at all, you missed it. The lady is a completely UNSUITABLE accommodation RIGHT NOW She has been treated poorly and needs a better place to live. It is simple to work out the answer. Not give the lady a load of flannel, it doesn't wash!!
Sorry MrTomSmith for not getting back to you earlier.

I can assure you that I have no connection with either Synergy or the local council or any other housing authority.

My comments are based purely on common business practices that any business that is meant to make a profit would exercise in this case.

My only update to this would be that I am surprised that Synergy have not found Pam and the other residents that are living in the remaining block that has yet to be knocked down, have not been found alternative accommodation. Surely this is a case for environmental health and also the heath and safety brigade to get involved. With all the dust, noise and work going on at the site, Pam and friends must be going through hell.

Before the work began in any way, shape or form, all of the tenants should have been removed from the site and placed in temporary accommodation until the new build was complete and then offered first refusal on the flats that have been built on the old site, assuming, of course, that the new flats will be there for the older members of our community, and not made into flats for the younger generation.

Having lived in these flats for 11 years, in their golden years, it must have been quite a shock for these elderly citizens to have to move, but they must be given the right to return once the building work is complete and the flats are designated fit for purpose by the CQC (Care Quality Commission).

I agree MrTomSmith with everything you say about the conditions at this point in time, and Synergy Housing should be ashamed of themselves for leaving Pam and friends in this situation and unless Synergy accept that that was their duty, to be completed before the work started to demolish the old flats, then they are , indeed, guilty of giving those residents a load of flannel.

What I would like to see, is a statement of apology to Pam and the other residents still living on the site, for failure to fulfil the duty of care to these people and to offer not only temporary accommodation right now, but to acknowledge their failure by giving these poor people some form of recompense for their inconvenience. maybe then, we can trust that this was an unfortunate oversight by Synergy and not just them being the bully in this case.
[quote][p][bold]MrTomSmith[/bold] wrote: Are you sure you don't work for them Mickle12 ? Well there best PR salesman couldn't have put a better case forward. This is rubbish, however nice you put it. I am sure we all understand change, but that's not the point of this article at all, you missed it. The lady is a completely UNSUITABLE accommodation RIGHT NOW She has been treated poorly and needs a better place to live. It is simple to work out the answer. Not give the lady a load of flannel, it doesn't wash!![/p][/quote]Sorry MrTomSmith for not getting back to you earlier. I can assure you that I have no connection with either Synergy or the local council or any other housing authority. My comments are based purely on common business practices that any business that is meant to make a profit would exercise in this case. My only update to this would be that I am surprised that Synergy have not found Pam and the other residents that are living in the remaining block that has yet to be knocked down, have not been found alternative accommodation. Surely this is a case for environmental health and also the heath and safety brigade to get involved. With all the dust, noise and work going on at the site, Pam and friends must be going through hell. Before the work began in any way, shape or form, all of the tenants should have been removed from the site and placed in temporary accommodation until the new build was complete and then offered first refusal on the flats that have been built on the old site, assuming, of course, that the new flats will be there for the older members of our community, and not made into flats for the younger generation. Having lived in these flats for 11 years, in their golden years, it must have been quite a shock for these elderly citizens to have to move, but they must be given the right to return once the building work is complete and the flats are designated fit for purpose by the CQC (Care Quality Commission). I agree MrTomSmith with everything you say about the conditions at this point in time, and Synergy Housing should be ashamed of themselves for leaving Pam and friends in this situation and unless Synergy accept that that was their duty, to be completed before the work started to demolish the old flats, then they are , indeed, guilty of giving those residents a load of flannel. What I would like to see, is a statement of apology to Pam and the other residents still living on the site, for failure to fulfil the duty of care to these people and to offer not only temporary accommodation right now, but to acknowledge their failure by giving these poor people some form of recompense for their inconvenience. maybe then, we can trust that this was an unfortunate oversight by Synergy and not just them being the bully in this case. Micke12
  • Score: 1

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