Our independent living officers offer care and support for older people living in sheltered accommodation. They guide them through their time there, making sure they are comfortable, safe and have someone to chat to when they need it.

One independent living officer celebrated her 10-year anniversary at Yorkshire Housing last month and talked about the wonderful people she has met so far and the great service that ILOs provide.

Jane Lawson has been at Yorkshire Housing since July 14, 2008, and in that time she has met many people who have come through the doors at Parkfield Court, Seacroft, which has been open for almost 30 years.

“We have 33 flats at Parkfield Court. The sheltered accommodation is for the over 60s. We are here to do daily visits and they always have someone to look after them and I can talk to their families about them and how they are. I have met some lovely people and had some wonderful times. The people here are so welcoming and there is a lot of community spirit.”

Over the years there have been many people that Jane has remembered, but one in particular has stood out and really emphasised the importance of the work that Jane and other ILOs do at Yorkshire Housing.

“One man left us last week. He had been here for 20 years. He moved in with his wife but she died seven years ago. When I came 10 years ago I was privileged to meet them. Joe had no family at all after his wife died. He was 92 and quite a fit and able man. Some of the stories he told me were unbelievable. I called him a loveable rogue.”

Joe then became ill and began to struggle with the stairs, but he was always sound of mind, says Jane.

“We made a decision to move him into a residential home. He was afraid but we took him to see the place with the social worker. Because he has no one you go that extra mile for them. When he came back he said it was like Buckingham Palace. He only moved last week and it was so sad to see him leave. The residents become part of your life even though it is work. The residents here are Joe’s family too. But it is lovely at the same time because I know he will be cared for.”

After a week at his new home, Jane went to visit him. “They said he was absolutely smashing. We saw him and he said he loved it. It was a relief. Just to know he is being looked after is so lovely,” she said.

“It is nice to know you have been a part of his life. That is what we do here. We follow them through this time of their life. That is what our job is, to know what they need and to refer to the different services. I feel very lucky. It is a privilege and it gives you a boost. Sometimes it is hard work but it’s worth getting out of bed in the morning.”