October 2023: Retirement Living Court Newsletter
The October 2023 edition of the Retirement Living Court Newsletter will cover the following topics:
- The Social Housing (Regulation) Act
- Update: New Housing and Customer Relationship Management system
- Community and Wellbeing Fund
- Why you should regularly clean your extractor fans and cooker hoods of dust and dirt
- Learn how to use the internet with Learn My Way
- Resident Engagement needs you!
- Helping Hands Fund
- World Mental Health Awareness Day
- Celebrating our employees
- Compliments and Complaints Update: Performance update: April to June 2023 - Quarter One
- Listen to our podcast!
- Your feedback matters
- Pendants – testing procedures
The Social Housing (Regulation) Act
The Social Housing (Regulation) Act became law on 20 July 2023. Its main aim is to rebalance the relationship between landlords and residents to give residents a greater voice and enable them to hold their landlord to account. It introduces measures to give residents greater powers, improve access to redress and strengthen the Regulator of Social Housing’s powers.
The Regulator for Social Housing will take a new, proactive regulatory approach to consumer standards. This will involve focusing on the following issues to regulate the updated consumer standards which come into force from April 2024.
These are the issues that have been identified as being most important to residents:
- Safety, so that residents feel protected in their homes
- Transparency, so that residents know what their landlord is doing to resolve their issues and can hold their landlord to account
- Quality accommodation and services, which landlords are expected to provide
- Complaint handling, so that residents are listened to and their concerns are effectively addressed
A consultation on the new standards has been launched which closes at 6pm on 17 October 2023.
More information is available on our website: https://www.housing21.org.uk/resident-information/social-housing-regulation-act/
If you would like to input into the consultation or would like to be involved in our preparations towards meeting the new consumer standards, please email email@example.com
Update: New Housing and Customer Relationship Management system
At Housing 21, we recognise the importance of providing a robust housing management system to support our employees in delivering the fantastic service that they offer to you, our residents. Our current system brought us into the 21st century, offering our Scheme Managers the ability to carry out tasks on a mobile device within your flat rather than being constricted to a desk. However, as technology is ever evolving, we know that we need to move with the times and invest in a system fit for purpose and are on track to launch a new system in summer 2024.
Our Project Team has been working to identify current issues our Scheme Managers face and address these with the new housing management system. One of the benefits is that it will provide managers with a clear view of resident information all in one place via a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) element. This will help to streamline our processes and make it easier for our managers to provide a great service for you.
We’re working hard in the background to build and prepare the new system based on our employees’ feedback and will keep you updated with progress as the project progresses.
Community and Wellbeing Fund
The Community and Wellbeing Fund is a new addition to the Helping Hands service we offer. The fund is available to start or further develop a project at your scheme with the aim of improving wellbeing and reducing social isolation through building connections with neighbours and the wider community.
There are three tiers of funding available, and your scheme could apply for anywhere up to £750 towards your project’s total cost.
If you would like to find out more about how you can get involved at your scheme, please speak to your local manager.
The Community and Wellbeing Fund is not available to leasehold schemes. If you have any questions or concerns around this, please speak to your local manager.
Why you should regularly clean your extractor fans and cooker hoods of dust and dirt
Other than being dust collectors, extractor fans draw up air particles containing dust and moisture, removing foul smells and steam from rooms.
Over time the drawn-up particles can collect in the vents, filters and blades leading to a build-up of mould and mildew. This build-up can allow moisture to linger, increasing the risk of mould and mildew to grow in a room, producing foul smells and spreading bacteria and germs into the air which can settle on surfaces.
Whether you’re cleaning an extractor fan in your bathroom or kitchen, the process is quite simple:
- To clean the extractor fan in your bathroom, use a vacuum to remove the dust and dirt from the vent and around the motor once the power is off.
- Clean greasy filters from a kitchen extractor fan using soapy water and dry it thoroughly before putting it back in the hood.
Learn how to use the internet with Learn My Way
Learn My Way offers free learning for you to gain digital skills and stay connected and safe online.
- To get started, visit www.learnmyway.com
- You have the option to register which lets you access all the learning topics for free.
- If you decide to register, select the first option: ‘Being supported by an online centre’.
- The online form will ask you to enter your name and the name of the online centre which is: Housing 21 – 8010785
You can use Learn my Way on your mobile, tablet or computer.
If you need support getting online, please speak to your local manager or
Resident Engagement needs you!
Hearing the voices of you, our residents, is a priority for Housing 21. From scheme level, right through to our Board, we want to hear your opinions to ensure you are always at the centre of our decision making. We’re committed to resident engagement and working collaboratively with you to improve and develop services.
We have a number of Resident Engagement Groups:
- Retirement Living Engagement Panel
- Extra Care forum
- Retirement Living Regional Engagement groups
- LGBT+ forum
- Disability forum
- REACH (Race, Equality and Cultural Heritage) forum
These are used in a variety of ways, for example to gain feedback on our services, policies and future direction. They also provide an opportunity to raise issues which you feel we should be addressing.
If you are interested in joining a Retirement Living Regional group, please contact your local manager.
If you are interested in joining any of the other groups or if you have any other suggestions for resident engagement, please email our Resident Engagement Lead, Tina Wathern at: Tina.Wathern@housing21.org.uk
Helping Hands Fund
Would you benefit from a one-off grant?
We may be able to help you if you are struggling financially. You can apply for a grant of up to £300 through our Helping Hands Fund.
The quickest way to is to contact your local manager or their line manager to make an application. If this is not possible, please email: HelpingHands@housing21.org.uk
If your application is approved, we usually offer vouchers or pay for items directly. We cannot reimburse for costs already paid, but if the costs are ongoing we may be able to help.
Please note, there are some eligibility requirements: for example, if you are in arrears on your rent or service charge account, you will need to set up a formal repayment plan with your local manager.
How we have helped…
We recently helped a resident to pay for their computer to be repaired. This resident has difficulty getting outside, so without their computer they were unable to do their weekly shop or stay connected with family and friends.
The resident said: “Without the help of the fund, I would have lost my contacts and not have been able to reconnect with everyone important to me. It has also helped me to regain my independence as I am no longer relying on others to do my shopping. Thank you.”
World Mental Awareness Day
Tuesday 10 October is World Mental Health Awareness Day, which is all about raising awareness of mental health and driving positive change. You can find out more about the day and access information, support and advice on the Mental Health Foundation website, www.mentalhealth.org.uk.
Please do speak with your local manager for further resources and support.
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
Compliments and Complaints Performance update: April to June 2023 - Quarter One
We received 35 formal complaints this period: 17 Retirement Living, 17 Extra Care and one Property Sales; this compared to 33 for the same period in the previous financial year. Our local managers are working hard to try to resolve as many complaints informally as possible. We received 217 informal complaints of which approximately 16 percent (35) progressed to stage one and 14 percent (five) progressed to stage two.
Our performance against the response targets, which are set within the Housing Ombudsman Complaints Handling Code are as follows:
- Acknowledgement of stage one formal complaints within five working days - We achieved 97 percent (one outside timescale)
- Response to stage one formal complaints within 10 working days - We achieved 94 percent (two outside timescale)
- Response to stage two formal complaints within 20 working days - We achieved 100 percent
Learning from formal complaints
Complaints are important to us because if we get something wrong there may be changes we need to make to improve our services; we call these ‘Lessons learnt.’
Learning from complaints has mainly been related to local learning at schemes. A common theme no matter what the subject of the complaint is a failure to follow policy and procedure, such as anti-social behaviour or lettings, which we are working to improve.
Some examples of local learning are:
- Ensuring regular updates on repairs issues and appointments are being made
- Employee development (and refreshers for wider teams) on our policies around accessing properties and the use of the master key
- Rent refund training
- Development for employees on sales processes and timescales
- Corrective action and development for not correctly recording areas, such as falls or updating risk assessments in care planning
- Re-training on how to progress on-going remedial work following a leak
- Re-training on requests from a resident to assist after a possible fall
- Reviewing the pre-assessment process to a specialised scheme and discussing placements with both the social worker and relative
- Training with the team on repairs reporting process. The resident handbook was updated and re-distributed. In particular an instruction was given to order replacement heating systems if similar failures occur in other apartments
- Re-training in anti-social behaviour procedures
- Team members attended further financial training to understand the scheme’s finances and budgets, which includes service charge and core support
- A new out of hours poster was displayed throughout the scheme and arrangements made to ensure that all residents are aware that repairs can be raised when there is no local manager on site
- Identifying that the processing of repairs did not meet our standards. A service improvement plan was to be developed with residents.
We continue to review how we learn from our formal complaints and make sure changes are actioned and recorded so we can see how services are improved. We are implementing changes through our internal complaints group and a resident led complaints group.
We dealt with 217 informal complaints with 70 percent being responded to within 10 working days. The main areas of complaint are repairs (20 percent), care (20 percent), housing issues (16 percent) and employees (15 percent). The more complaints we can handle informally helps our residents get quick resolutions to their concerns.
Further details about our complaints policy and procedure can be found via our website at: https://www.housing21.org.uk/about-us/contact-us/complaints/
We always welcome and value compliments about our employees and services. We have received a total of 363 compliments so far this year. 73 percent were about employees/teams, 25 percent about services and two percent about our contractors.
Housing Ombudsman Update
The Housing Ombudsman looks at complaints from residents from different types of housing providers if residents remain unhappy with the response from their landlord. Its work is funded by annual landlord subscription fees. Investigating these complaints is a free, independent and impartial service for residents about their housing related complaints.
We received three case requests during this period (of which one was later withdrawn) and one determination which related to the previous financial year. Case requests can take many months for the Housing Ombudsman to process and so determinations can often relate to a previous financial year. Our target is zero at fault cases; the outcome being if this case did not determine Housing 21 as being at fault.
The Housing Ombudsman Service can be contacted at any point during the complaints process for advice and guidance using the following contact details:
- Telephone: 0300 111 3000 between 9.15am and 5.15pm, Monday to Friday
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (recommended)
- Online complaint form: Make a complaint - Housing Ombudsman (housing-ombudsman.org.uk) (recommended)
- Post: Housing Ombudsman Service, PO Box 152, Liverpool, L33 7WQ
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 getting to grips with tech? This episode is all about our residents using technology in their day-to-day life and how technology has changed over the years. Within the episode we highlight how Housing 21 can help you be more confident online by signing up to our new Digital Eagles course – please speak to your scheme manager for more information.
Stream now on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or on our website here: Housing 21 - 21 Talks - Podcast
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 feedback matters
Trustpilot is an independent website where you can review organisations and share your experience. We value your feedback and know that potential future residents want to know what it is like to live at a Housing 21 property. You can help with this by leaving a review on the Trustpilot website to let people know about your experience.
Please visit https://www.trustpilot.com/review/www.housing21.org.uk to 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 Local Housing 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 pendent 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.