This has been ground breaking, innovative and exciting work. We now have a team of trained, experienced and committed tenants who plan, deliver, present and scrutinise improvements across housing services. As a result, we have a long list of evidence which demonstrates the positive impact our tenant-led scrutiny activities have had on improving housing services and therefore improving support and services to our tenants.
Mystery Shopping was carried out on our Customer Service Standards and the performance of staff working in the Local Area Housing Offices between November 2014 and March 2015. The Mystery Shoppers undertook an intensive programme of shops and prepared a report with their findings and over 20 recommendations, which were accepted. These included delivering more opportunities for staff training, reviewing our telephone systems, reception areas and information to tenants about our services. These have either been put in place or are underway.
The SURE (Service User Review and Evaluation) Team have concluded scrutiny activities in how housing services handle complaints and communications within the repairs service. The SURE team undertook a thorough examination of the complaints policy and performance information as well as interviewing staff. A report was then produced with a number of recommendations for improvement, including further training of staff on handling complaints, reviewing private spaces available to tenants to make complaints and reviewing how complaints performance is reported to tenants. In relation to repair a number of recommendations, we will see changes to the way Repairs staff communicate with tenants and also gather tenant satisfaction data. Managers have presented their improvement plan to the SURE Team and improvements are now underway as per the recommendations.
The Quality Panel supported and informed key service reviews, including the Council’s Sheltered Housing and Garage Site and Lock-Up Reviews, both of which are high profile, sensitive and extensive projects. In recognition of the work needed to improve the time and process for re-letting our empty/void properties, the Quality Panel provided the critical tenant perspective undertaking quality checks of void properties. The panel also checked the way the Council communicates with tenants by means of a ‘Customer Approved’ logo which is used across the service and is awarded to leaflets, standard letters etc. This is approved by the panel to make sure they are jargon-free and easy for tenants to understand.
Homeless Services and Tenant Participation staff have engaged with people who have experienced their homelessness through a bespoke learning programme which has led to Resident Inspections of hostels and temporary accommodation and these have led to a range of improvements.