Elderly residents have been largely confined to their flats for two months this summer due to a broken lift in their retirement living scheme.

The lift in Pembroke House in Fisherton Street has been under refurbishment since August 2, affecting the majority of the building's 38 flats, which are spread over four floors.

The building's housing provider, Stonewater, says the work isn't scheduled to finish until October 1.

First floor residents Dennis and June Fittal, both 88, struggle to get up and down the stairs.

Dennis says having to tackle the stairs in their condition puts them off leaving the building, even when their flat has been "very warm" in the heatwave.

Dennis said: "It's a struggle to get up and down the stairs at the moment. I suffer from hip trouble. My wife has also had a couple of falls.

"It has put us out. We get a lot of help: some of the people upstairs who are younger than us do some shopping for us, and from my son and daughter-in-law.

"I have to rely on other people to help us out, because of the lift. It's a struggle when you're trying to get your shopping up the stairs."

Stonewater offered the residents the option to be temporarily re-housed during the refurbishment, and a laundry and shopping service so that they don't "need to take the stairs as often".

A friend of the residents, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: "It's just madness to do this to them.

"The residents don't want to move out. They worry about the contents of their flat if they move out. It's just not on really.

"One or two of the more able ones are trying to do some shopping for some of the others, but they shouldn't do it because it's a very steep, old building, and it's a spiral staircase."

Dennis added that he has also been having troubles with hot water for six weeks: "I'm still waiting for my hot water to be fixed, and it's going into the sixth week. I keep having to put my booster on, which is costing me money."

According to Stonewater, the site is a grade II listed building which means a temporary stairlift cannot be installed.

The company has apologised for the lift and hot water issues the residents are experiencing in the building.

A spokesperson from Stonewater said: "We are really sorry to hear that customers at our retirement living scheme, Pembroke House, are finding it difficult to manage while the lift at the property undergoes a refurbishment.

"The refurbishment work started on August 2 and we are due to be in a position to test the lift, as scheduled, week commencing September 27. It should then be fully operational by the end of that week.

"We began talking to our customers back in April about this essential work and did offer all our customers the option to be temporarily re-housed while the work was completed.

"For other projects like this we have been able to temporarily install a stair lift, unfortunately this is not a possibility at Pembroke House because of its listed building status.

"However, we have offered those residents that decided to stay during the time the lift was going to be out of action a laundry and shopping service so that they didn’t need to take the stairs as often.

"We are also sorry that one of our customers at Pembroke House is also experiencing a problem with their hot water at the moment and having to use a more expensive booster to heat their water.

"We do have the repair logged and share the customer’s frustration with how long it is currently taking to complete.

"Unfortunately, our repairs contractor for the area does have a backlog of repairs and is prioritising those households that don’t currently have hot water.

"We understand that they are experiencing both materials and labour shortages currently. As we are regularly seeing across many industries, in some areas they are understaffed by as much as 50%.

"However, they do have an operative scheduled to visit the property this Friday (September 10), when we expect that the problem will be resolved."


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