The February 2024 edition of the Retirement Living Court Newsletter will cover the following topics:
- Grab a cuppa with Kris and find what’s happening in Extra Care!
- We’d love to hear from you!
- Our new Domestic Abuse Policy
- Resident Engagement: New Year Reflection
- Supporting you to plan for your future
- Get your finances in shapes!
- Energy Support for Residents
- Free Data Connectivity
- Care Survey 2023
- Your Extra Care Board Committee member – Ian Devereux
- Celebrating our employees
- Listen to our podcast
- Your voice matters; share your experience!
- Pendants – testing procedure
Grab a cuppa with Kris and find what’s happening in Extra Care!
Join Managing Director of Extra Care, Kris Peach at his next ‘Grab a Cuppa with Kris’ session on Thursday 22 February at 2pm, where you can hear key updates and ask those burning questions.
In his next session, Kris will be sharing our thoughts on how we can further invest in our services in seeking ideas from residents on what plans would really make the difference, how we’re marking Housing 21’s 60th anniversary, and an update on the work the resident forum is currently undertaking.
You’ll have the chance to ask Kris your questions using the question-and-answer function during the session, but feel free to pass on any questions you have to your scheme manager ahead of the session.
Details on how to join the session on the Resident Information section on the website.
If you can’t attend, don’t worry. We will share a summary of the session, as well as a link to the recording in the next newsletter.
Kris will ‘go live’ on Microsoft Teams every three months to talk about the issues that matter most to you. Here are the rest of the dates for 2024:
- Thursday 22 February, 2pm
- Tuesday 28 May, 10am
- Wednesday 14 August, 12 noon
- Monday 18 November, 3pm
We’ll share the meeting links nearer the time.
We’d love to hear from you!
As you will know, 2024 is an exciting year for Housing 21 as we celebrate 60 years as a Housing Association. We’ve got lots planned to mark this momentous occasion and there will be lots of opportunities for residents to get involved in our celebrations throughout the year. To kick things off we’re focusing on resident stories:
Are you celebrating a 60th birthday or 60th anniversary in 2024?
If so, we want to hear from you! Please email email@example.com with some brief information including your name(s), date of your birthday / anniversary, a photo to accompany your story with a line about how long you’ve lived at your scheme.
Enter our photography competition!
We’re inviting residents to submit photos that capture their perspective of life at Housing 21. These can be photos of candid moments, posed shots or the natural beauty of your scheme – it's really up to you.
The best photos will be shared across our social media channels and on our website, and the photographers will be credited. Please send your photos, with your name, contact details, scheme name and a caption for your photo to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are taking photos of other residents or colleagues, please make sure you have their permission.
If you are unable to email us, please speak to your scheme manager who will be able to contact us on your behalf.
Our new Domestic Abuse Policy
Domestic abuse is described on the Gov UK website as abusive behaviour from a family member, partner or ex-partner and victims of domestic abuse can be from any background, age or gender. It can include:
- Physical or sexual abuse
- Violent or threatening behaviour
- Psychological or emotional abuse
- Coercive behaviour - for example, humiliation or intimidation
- Controlling behaviour - for example, making someone feel less important or dependent on the abuser
- Economic abuse - this includes controlling someone's possessions or how they earn or spend money
It can also include harassment, stalking, female genital mutilation (FGM), forced marriage and 'honour-based' abuse.
Housing 21 is launching its own Domestic Abuse Policy, which is now in place for residents. The policy has been co-produced with residents and is part of our safeguarding work to ensure that residents live free from abuse and neglect within their own home.
Using this policy, we will be able to support residents with any concerns around domestic abuse including the work of our Domestic Abuse Champions. We have introduced Housing 21 Domestic Abuse Champions who you can contact regarding any domestic abuse questions or concerns, whether this is in relation to yourself or someone you know. The team have had training with various organisations, such as ManKind, Galop, SafeLives, Age UK and can signpost you to specialist services where necessary.
Please speak to your scheme manager to be made aware of who our Domestic Abuse Champions are and if you would like to see our policy following its launch later this month.
To support best practice with domestic abuse, Housing 21 is also progressing towards the Domestic Abuse for Housing Associations (DAHA) accreditation process.
Resident Engagement: New Year Reflection
Resident Engagement: New Year Reflection
It’s that time of year when people make resolutions and look forward to the year ahead; we wanted to take some time to reflect on the last year for resident engagement at Housing 21 and what’s to come in 2024.
In the last year, the face of resident engagement has seen some changes while we’ve been building on the amazing work that was already happening across the organisation and has meant we’ve established five network forums: the Retirement Living Resident Forum, Extra Care’s Peer Led Residents Forum and three groups for minoritised communities (LGBT+, Disability and REACH (Race, Equity and Cultural Heritage)). You can find all the information under the resident information section on our website.
In 2023, the groups have been engaged in topics such as:
- Influencing policy and practice, including several policy reviews and comment on practice
- Contributed to the new website discussions and survey design
- Had discussions with operational employees about the service charge and the accompanying guidance document
- Learnt about the new Social Housing Regulation Act and how it impacts Housing 21
- Met with Housing 21 colleagues from various departments about the new Birdie project
- Creating a welcome pack for residents wishing to get involved in resident engagement across both Extra Care and Retirement Living
As Housing 21 enters its 60th anniversary year of celebrations we’re looking forward to lots more exciting times in resident engagement.
This is a great opportunity to make sure Housing 21 hears the voices of our residents. If you might be interested in joining one of the groups or would like more information, please email email@example.com or speak to your scheme manager.
Supporting you to plan for your future
Getting older, as we all do, can bring challenges that many of us prefer to avoid thinking about, however, at the same time many of us fear loss of control about decisions relating to our health care.
Thinking ahead and writing down what matters to you can be a daunting process, however, if no one else knows what is important to you, your preferences and choices may not be taken into consideration. It may be difficult to talk to your family and they may not agree, but having these conversations in advance can help direct decisions that sometimes need to be made at a time of crisis.
Writing your preferences down will help others know what is important to you and you can change your mind at any time. Marie Curie has some fantastic resources that can help you think about what can be put in place and who you can nominate to speak on your behalf if you are not able to. The links to these free resources are available on the Resident Information section of the Housing 21 website, or you can ask your scheme manager to print them for you.
To support you in planning for your future, there is also an opportunity to complete an Advanced Care Plan, which is used to document your wishes and preferences. Speak to your scheme manager if this is something you would like to do.
Get your finances in shape!
Money matters, you may be missing out on benefits that apply to you!
Did you know that two in every five people who are eligible for pension credit, attendance allowance or personal independence payments are not claiming it?
Below are some useful websites and resources you can use to find out what benefits and grants apply to you. If you are unable to access these resources or you want to find out more information, please speak to your scheme manager.
You can use the Turn2Us website to search for grants available to you and use their benefit calculator to find out what benefits you are eligible for. They also have useful guides and information on different types of grants and benefits, some you may not have even heard of, so please check it out!
There are lots of benefits out there and it can often be overwhelming to find what you may be entitled to. The Gov UK website will explain what each benefit is for and who is eligible to claim it. Use the search button, for example “pension benefits” “universal credit” to access the right pages. It will also advise you where you need to go to make an application.
DHP is financial support to help with rent or housing costs. You can apply for a DHP if you are currently receiving Housing Benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit and need more financial support with housing costs. Applications must be made through your local council; please ask your scheme manager for support.
To find out more about the different benefits that can be claimed, ask your scheme manager for a copy of our Guide to Benefits leaflet.
Energy Support for Residents
Energy costs may be a source of worry for some, but there is support available.
The Helping Hands Fund can support with a payment of up to £300 towards gas, electricity, or water debt. To date, the fund has supported with almost £5000 in energy payments, supporting a significant number of residents to reduce or settle the amount outstanding.
Here’s some feedback from a Local Housing Manager on behalf of their resident who was supported with a payment towards his energy debt:
“I have just been up to tell him how much Helping Hands have paid, and he can’t believe it. He wanted me to thank you so much for helping him, he didn’t realise you would be able to pay that much and was virtually in tears! This is going to make a massive difference to him and has taken a massive weight off his shoulders.”
The Helping Hands Fund can support in lots of other ways too, for example, if your energy debt is less than £300 but is still affecting you financially, you could apply for support with food costs or unexpected expenses.
There are some eligibility requirements, for example, if you are in arrears with your rent or service charge account, you will need to set up a formal repayment plan with your scheme manager before making an application to Helping Hands.
The quickest way to apply is via your scheme manager or buddy manager. If your manager is unavailable, you can also email HelpingHands@housing21.org.uk for more information.
The Housing Associations Charitable Trust (HACT) Hardship Fund is available for those who use prepayment meters and can support with up to £294 per household in the form of PayPoint vouchers.
Proof of eligibility is required. For more information about how to apply, please speak with your scheme manager, who will be able to assist you.
Free Data Connectivity
One of the barriers to digital inclusion is not having data connectivity.
Housing 21 are part of the Online Centres Network and the National Databank, where we can apply for free data for those who need it, not only that, but Good Things Foundation have also teamed up with Virgin Money to bring the National Databank into their full network of stores.
People can visit their nearest Virgin Money store and pick up an O2 SIM card pre-loaded with 20GB of free data.
In addition, Housing 21 will soon be in receipt of 30 SIM cards, pre-loaded with 20GB of free data for six months. If you need to get online but you are unable to do so due to data costs and affordability, you can apply!
The National Databank works like a food bank, but provides free mobile data, texts and calls for people in need.
Want to know more? Drop an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org or speak to your scheme manager.
Care Survey 2023
A big thank you to the Extra Care residents who took part in our annual Care Survey. Your feedback on Housing 21’s care service is invaluable and will help shape our Extra Care services going forward.
The survey closed on 23 December, and our research partner Acuity is now in the process of analysing and reporting on the results. We expect to share the results, including individual scheme-level reports in March 2024 and will communicate this with you.
Your Extra Care Board Committee member – Ian Devereux
I had intended to start this note by wishing everyone a happy and prosperous New Year; unfortunately, I must start with the tragic news of John Ayton's death. John for those who had not met him, was the resident member of the Housing 21 Board.
I had the pleasure of meeting John some years ago when he stayed at King Edward Court, whilst following his passion for the sport of roller hockey. John joined us on the Friday evening for our quiz night where he and I ended up sharing our stock of quiz questions as he ran similar quiz nights at his scheme.
John and I immediately recognised each other when we met again in the reception at Tricorn House; John had just become the Resident Board Member, and I was there to meet Bruce Moore and Elaine Elkington with a view to joining the Extra Care Board Committee as the resident member. I always found John to be a thoughtful, caring individual and a passionate advocate for the residents. He will be sadly missed by all who knew him, and we send our condolences to John's family.
On a lighter note, I thought it would be appropriate to let you know some of the things we have been talking to Housing 21 about over the last year, and to update you on the three key projects we will be working on in 2024:
We had a very productive meeting with Richard Lawton (Finance) and Tracy Jones (Extra Care) from Housing 21 and agreed it would be helpful to have some new literature, including better explanations around service charges and updating the frequently asked questions. Housing 21 will look at more opportunities for engaging residents with service charges, together with how we can provide better value for money – working with schemes to look at energy use etc.
We also met with the regional managers to discuss the findings of the resident survey. Whilst the survey was generally positive, there will always be areas for improvement. We have agreed to work together to help improve communication between Housing 21 and the residents, and an open invitation was made for the regional managers to join the resident forum for our regular meetings. The managers also discussed the idea of extending the ‘Grab a Cuppa with Kris’ webinars to the regional managers, doing something similar with much more local news and input. We will also be working on ways to improve communications, and how we can support people to be more involved in the running of their schemes.
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).:
Lastly, we will be talking to Housing 21 about how we clarify and improve knowledge around data protection. I think we have all expressed concerns and frustrations about what can and cannot be shared between employees, residents, friends and family, and there is a great deal of misunderstanding around what is and is not covered by the Data Protection Act/ General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). We will look at how we can provide clear guidance and information for both managers and resident associations on what they can share and how it should be managed. We will also try to ensure we build community spirit and support without falling foul of GDPR. We live in small communities where friendships and mutual support groups develop; these need to be nurtured not ignored when it comes to keeping people informed.
I look forward to talking to you all throughout the coming year and hope it is a happy - and if not prosperous - at least comfortable, New Year. Finally, I would like to say a special "thank you" to all the employees who worked through this page. A job - I know - I could not do.
Happy New Year to all.
Celebrating our employees
Have you had a positive experience with one of our employees?
Perhaps they have supported you with claiming benefits, or generally gone above and beyond to support you?
If so, we would love to hear from you and to share your story to make sure our people are recognised for Making a Difference (MAD).
Please send your stories to: MAD@housing21.org.uk
Listen to our podcast!
Tune in to 21 Talks; a podcast showing that at every age, everyone has important stories to tell and opinions to share.
We have episodes on sustainability, the Extra Care Academy and inclusivity and financial wellbeing, featuring our wonderful Housing 21 employees and residents!
Have you listened to our latest episode on activities to positively impact your wellbeing?
Across Housing 21 we often talk about wellbeing and the importance of it, but what does it actually mean for residents living in our schemes?
Local Housing Manager Laura Gilling is passionate about the benefits physical activity can have on people’s wellbeing. In this episode of 21 Talks, she sits down with residents Zohra and Austin to find out what activities positively contribute to their wellbeing, as well as advice they’d give to other residents who are looking to try something new.
If you have an idea for a topic we could discuss in the next episode and would like to feature in our 21 Talks podcast, please contact email@example.com
Your voice matters; share your experience!
What do you think of your home and the facilities at your scheme? Is there a particular person who stands out for you? Your satisfaction and experiences are at the heart of everything we do, and we would love to hear your thoughts by leaving us feedback on our Trustpilot page.
Trustpilot is an independent website where you can review organisations and share your experience.
Please visit the Housing 21 Trustpilot page and leave your review.
Pendants – Testing Procedures
A reminder that all residents should now be testing their own pendant alarm once a month. This arrangement has the added benefit of helping residents to build confidence in using the equipment. Please ensure you test your pendant alarm from inside your accommodation, not in the communal areas.
New residents, during their tenancy sign-up, are informed that it is a resident’s responsibility to carry out a monthly pendant test. However, where a Scheme Manager believes a resident is unable to test their pendant, or they have no immediate family members to support them, they will carry out the test. If you have any queries or concerns about pendants / pendant testing, please contact your local manager.
PLEASE DON'T FORGET TO TEST YOUR PENDANT ALARM!
A monthly test is all it needs to ensure it is working effectively.
If you have any comments on this newsletter, please contact your Scheme Manager.