April 2024: Retirement Living Court Newsletter

 The April 2024 edition of the Retirement Living Court Newsletter will cover the following topics: 

  • Message from Kris Peach, Managing Director of Extra Care  
  • New consumer standards for residents
  • Complaints Policy Update
  • Celebrating our employees
  • 21 Talks: Listen to our podcast
  • Make Your Voice Heard: Leave a Review on Trustpilot
  • Pendants – testing procedures
  • • Message from Pam Mastrantonio, Managing Director of Retirement Living

    Thank you to everyone who joined our ‘Catch up over Coffee’ session last month session in February. It was a great opportunity to share key updates with you, but don’t worry if you missed it, we recorded the session, and it is available to watch on YouTube.

    I appreciate that not everyone has access to a device they can join webinars on, so here is a summary of what I touched on during the session.  

    Resident survey feedback 
    You may remember that in our first ‘Catch up over Coffee’ session in November, we updated you on the results of our Resident Survey. Overall, 86 percent of residents were satisfied with living with Housing 21, which is really positive, but we do have some work to do to reach our target of 95 percent. Going forward each scheme will have its own individual engagement plan, and your Operational Managers are in the middle of developing these. We’ve also looked to see which schemes may need additional support to effectively engage with you, our residents, and we’ll help Operational Mangers and Local Housing Managers to pinpoint how we can increase satisfaction.

    When looking at the survey results, we can see key themes emerging: complaints, anti-social behaviour and neighbourhood, and communication and effectiveness. We will be focusing on these areas by looking at what steps we can take to improve.

    Rent and service charges
    You should have received a letter explaining the increased rent and service charges. Our rents are increasing by 7.7 percent from April 2024. This increase is based on a formula dictated by Government, which is the September 2023 Consumer Price Index plus one percent. If you are concerned about any of the charges or cost of living in general, please speak to your Local Housing Manager. We do have initiatives that can help, such as the Helping Hands Fund which offers grants to those in need and offers support to access benefits.

    60th Anniversary  
    This year, Housing 21 celebrates its 60th anniversary as a Housing Association. We’ve got lots of opportunities for you to get involved and we’re encouraging each scheme to hold a summer celebration between May and September to mark this momentous occasion, and funds are available to put towards catering at an event.

    Please do get involved – we would love to hear from you if you are celebrating your 60th birthday or diamond wedding anniversary. Please email communications@housing21.org.uk 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.
    More information about our celebrations can be found on our website. 

    60th anniversary photo competition

    Each month the Communications Team will be showcasing entries from our photo competition on our Housing 21 Facebook page, tagging in the Facebook pages of schemes where you’ve got involved. In August, we will then hold a public vote for the best Retirement Living photo; will it be you that wins?

    Photos can be submitted by emailing Housing 21's Communications Team at communications@housing21.org.uk,  please make sure you have read the rules of entry before submitting. To read the rules of entry, please speak to your Local Housing Manager who can make this available to you.

    If you are unable to email the team, please speak to your local manager who will be able to on your behalf. 

    Retirement Living Resident Forum 
    We want to keep residents at the heart of what we do, so it’s important that your voice is heard. We have more than 30 residents on our Retirement Living Resident Forum, and they have played a key role in a wide range of areas, including reviewing policies on aids and adaptations and repairs. They’ve also been consulted on upcoming initiatives, such as the new website, the Housing Perks app and the Wellbeing Strategy.

    We would love to get more people involved in the forum so if this is something you are interested in, please speak to your Local Housing Manager or your Operations Manager.

    Save the date: Catch up over Coffee in 2024
    Make sure you save the dates of my upcoming sessions in your diary:

    • Tuesday 28 May, 2pm
    • Wednesday 14 August, 3pm
    • Monday 18 November, 12 noon

    We will share the link to the sessions nearer the time.

  • New consumer standards for residents

    From 1 April, new Government legislation will come into effect providing increased rights for residents and changing the way you can raise complaints with us.  

    The Government has introduced the Social Housing (Regulation) Act giving residents more power to hold landlords to account.  

    From 1 April, social landlords - including Housing 21 -, must adhere to minimum consumer and housing standards to ensure everyone is living in a safe, and good quality home. Those who fail to do so will face stricter consequences by the Regulator for Social Housing and the Housing Ombudsman, both of whom have been given new, increased powers.  

    The new act focuses on four key consumer standards: 

    • The Safety and Quality Standard which requires landlords to provide safe and good-quality homes for their tenants, along with good-quality landlord services 
    • The Transparency, Influence and Accountability Standard which requires landlords to be open with tenants and treat them with fairness and respect so they can access services, raise concerns when necessary, influence decision making and hold their landlord to account 
    • The Neighbourhood and Community Standard which requires landlords to engage with other relevant parties so that tenants can live in safe and well-maintained neighbourhoods, and feel safe in their homes 
    • The Tenancy Standard which sets requirements for the fair allocation and letting of homes, as well as requirements for how tenancies are managed by landlords 

    You can find out more on our website and we’ll be providing more information over the coming months:


  • Complaints Policy Update

    The Housing Ombudsman Service has released a new Code of Handling Conduct which comes into effect on 1 April, and it brings in several changes to our Complaints Policy which is currently going through our Resident Complaint Panel and internal approval.  

    We wanted to reiterate that our focus remains on resolving issues for you as quickly as we can, as we always have done.  

    What does this mean for you? 


    • There will be no more informal complaints, only formal complaints
    • The formal complaints procedure itself remains a clear, two-stage process
    • An increase in the time you can log a complaint from the time of the incident, from six months to 12 months (each case will be considered on its own merits out of this time)
    • The way you can make a complaint remains through your scheme manager, via email to feedback@housing21.org.uk or by phone to our complaints line on 0303 123 1622. 
    • An increase in the time you can escalate a stage one complaint to stage two to six months (each case will be considered on its own merits out of this time)
    • We are updating our resident leaflet. 


    The definition of a complaint remains the same and it’s simply an expression of your dissatisfaction about the standard of our services, actions or lack of action which affect you as an individual or group of individuals.  

    What this does mean, is if you make a request for service for the first time be it a repair, antisocial behaviour or nuisance, this is defined as a service request. We aim to handle that the best we can and to your satisfaction. 

    If we fall short of your expectations, then it’s important you know that you can raise a formal complaint which will be acknowledged, investigated and responded to at stage one within 15 working days (unless by exception, an extension is required for more complex cases). 

    We will be working with your scheme managers and providing them with more detailed information so they can talk with you about this on scheme.  

    If you have any feedback as to how you think we could improve our complaints process, please contact us at feedback@housing21.org.uk.

  • 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 the Make a Difference Team 

  • 21 Talks: Listen to our podcast!

    Have you tuned in to 21 Talks? 21 Talks is our podcast showing that at every age, everyone has important stories to tell and opinions to share.

    We have episodes on the Extra Care Academy, inclusivity and getting to grips with tech, and every episode features our incredible Housing 21 employees and residents!

    Have you listened to our latest episode on activities to positively impact your wellbeing? 

    Stream now on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or on our website. 

  • Make Your Voice Heard: Leave a Review on Trustpilot

    Your satisfaction and experiences are our top priority, and we genuinely value your input. That's why we're extending an invitation for you to share your valuable feedback on Trustpilot! 

    You can help with this by leaving a review on the Trustpilot website to let people know about your experience.   


  • Pendant 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. 

  • InBloom Gardening Competition 2024

    The InBloom gardening competition is usually hosted by Retirement Living in the North-East region, however, for our 60th anniversary year we want to give all of our green fingered Retirement Living residents the chance to get involved at your scheme! 

    Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or never planted a seed before, everyone is welcome to participate! Now is the time to put your gardening skills to the test and showcase the blooming beauties and gardening masterpieces at your scheme! 

    There will be lots of events happening throughout the year, with InBloom launch parties, National Gardening Week in May and the judging events taking place in the summer. Are you wanting to get involved and make your community bloom?

    Please speak to your Local Housing Manager to enter and for more information on key dates throughout the year!   

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