Service Improvement Panel Update 6

Being part of the RSIG is so demanding but yet rewarding. As having the opportunity to scrutinise and ensure bpha is accountable for the services they provide. Being a tenant myself I know just how important RSIG are in the process in ensuring quality of services, which provide a better outlook and satisfaction for both tenant and bpha.

This all enables a better quality and the happier functioning of social housing.

My journey into social housing began when I realised that I couldn’t afford to private rent. Being a single mother of two boys proves demanding and costly. My home is very important to me and is one of the main priorities in regards to ensuring the well-being of both myself and my children. This again is why the role RSIG play in bpha is paramount. For someone like me and I represent many and so bring their voice and views which for most is difficult to be heard.

I have been a member of RSIG for nearly 3 months now and am already overwhelmed by the inspirational work we do. Each member brings so much to RSIG with all views being very different but very important. One member who really inspired me was Tracey Condliffe she is the chair of RSIG, she recently came 2nd place in the Tenant/Resident Involvement award. What an amazing achievement.

These last months have been very busy for RSIG.

A strategy meeting between the Operations Board and RSIG which was held at Box End Park. This was very interesting as it helped reinforce the relationship between the board and the scrutiny group. This meeting, I found ran very successfully giving me a better understanding of the dynamics of bpha. Also I got the opportunity to engage with other members and senior staff of bpha which really educated me. I was also very impressed with how John Cross was very interested in the resident views and felt this was of paramount importance to the quality of services of bpha.

The RSIG meeting at Gordon Colling House was a meeting about lessons learnt. We discussed what has worked well, what we would do differently, and opportunities for the future. I feel this review went well as it is important in any organisation to review the way they do things in order to improve services. We also attended the East 7 residents network event at Tempsford Village Hall. This is where representatives of 9 developing  housing providers meet to share ideas on involvement. This was successful as it led a 2nd conferences being planned to share ideas and develop regional working.

Other topics on the agenda I am particularly looking forward to is the visit from ARHAG. They are a small housing association based in London specialising in housing refugees and minority groups. We are to host their newly formed scrutiny group.

Having gained a HND in Housing, the experience of working with RSIG has increased my knowledge tremendously, and I have only just started and bpha has given me this opportunity, giving training, helping me become more skilled, confident and experienced in this field. Watch this space!

Service Improvement Panel Update 5

RSIG has a brand new member, Vanessa Samson, who has taken the time to write the next update for the blog.

My first impression of the Resident Scrutiny and Improvement Group is very, caring, interesting, important, intensive, followed by a generous workload.

On the 14th March I was invited to an RSIG meeting which was held at the Gordon Colling House, one of bpha’s Extra Care schemes for older people. The meeting started very promptly and Elaine, our very own Resident Involvement Co-ordinator, encouraged everyone to have coffee as we had a lot to get through on the business agenda.

The meeting, I was told, was a stray from the norm. We mainly looked at what reviews (inspections) RSIG would carry out for the financial year 2013/2014. Examples of covered topics such as the customer journey and information, the sign up and four week tenancy, void standards, and repairs and gas servicing were all among the excessive agenda. However, we seem to get through each topic swiftly and efficiently which I thought was very impressive, with each member’s views and evaluations proving vital when coming to conclusions. Other interesting subjects discussed were welfare reform and the possible effects it may cause within the housing sector, I found this very important and intriguing.

After hours of debating and deciding what reviews RSIG would carry out for 2013/14, it was decided that I would have the joy of working on the mini review of non compliance of customer information. Other reviews put forward are customer satisfaction with gas repair and servicing, and the voids standards. I have a lot of research to do.

Service Improvement Panel Update 4

I can’t believe it is only 7 weeks until Christmas; it seems to have crept up on us this year what with no summer to speak of.  Since September I have been busy with the NIBE boiler scrutiny that I am leading, visiting Bedford and the surrounding area many times during the last 6 weeks.  I can now find my way round the one way road system in the dark and can even get home to Stilton without going via Luton! (and I’m not joking).

One of the pleasant tasks this month has been RSIG’s trip to York to attend the 2nd Annual Tenant Panel conference organised by Northern Housing Consortium on Transparency and Value for Money.  Both relevant topics in today’s environment and of course we also discussed Welfare Reform, housing, health and social care and the challenges this will bring to all housing providers.

After the three main presentations the day continued with a choice of workshops and to enable us to get a good overview of the subjects on offer only two RSIG members attended the same workshop.

One of the workshops I attended was on a scrutiny carried out by ‘Calico’ on Older People’s Services and while the methods used to gather information from residents was interesting it was refreshing to know that we are at least up to scratch, and in some cases, ahead of how we work with our landlord.   The scrutiny group for Calico are called RAISE (Raising Action to Improve Standards and Excellence), have 12 members who all take part in a review; coming together at different times to discuss progress.  This particular review took 8 months to complete which was a surprise to me as our reviews, which are divided into sub-groups, take approximately 4 months from start to finish enabling us to carry out three full scrutiny procedures a year giving, we think, much better value for money. Carrying out reviews in this relatively short time span can be very intensive and time consuming for those involved, usually 3 members but at others it is more relaxing and my car gets a rest from ploughing along the A1 and A421.

Other workshops I attended were on ‘Carrying out scrutiny with dispersed stock’ and ‘Attracting, using and rewarding feedback from residents’ respectfully.  The latter being the most interesting as I know Elaine has difficulty in attracting new members to RSIG but unfortunately the presentation was hijacked by too many people asking negative questions with the result the presenter was side tracked.

The best part of the trip was the opportunity to network and get to know the other members of RSIG better.  There is no better way to get to know your colleagues than to be stuck in a car for 5 hours on a 2 hour journey thanks to accidents on the A1 and M1.

Service Improvement Panel Update 3

In September RSIG welcomed two new members to the group: Jon Miles and Vivienne Martin. Jon was already known to some of us because he was, until a few weeks ago, the Chair of Scrutiny for Aldwyck, so he brings a certain level of experience with him. Viv is a busy mum and is very keen on assisting bpha to spread the news about Welfare Reform, as she believes she is one of our residents who will be affected. It was also time for my first performance appraisal as I have been with the group for a year now. I’d forgotten what an appraisal was so it was a relief that it all went smoothly.

Also at the September meeting, the sub-group which has been carrying out a review of Neighbourhoods (Tracey, Mel, Norman and Julian), submitted the full report of their findings, including a proposed action plan agreed by David Palfreman (Head of Housing), with a timescale for implementation of our recommendations. The progress of the agreed action plan will be closely monitored by RSIG.

The scrutiny aimed to address: why residents were dissatisfied with their neighbourhood. The sub-group visited a number of neighbourhoods and interviewed residents living there, and the sub-group would like to say thank you to those residents who were open and honest in their assessment of bpha services. The sub- group looked at gaps in service and reviewed the impact of relevant local offers.

The review also benefited from the support of the Resident Services team and the Community Development team, the professionalism and courtesy received from the relevant bpha staff members, including members who significantly assisted in the production of the final report. A big thank you to all involved. We already have a sub-group led by my good self working on our next scrutiny, which is in relation to NIBE boilers, concentrating on the way bpha has dealt with the customer service issues.

Working with your landlord seems to have been a discussion theme for September, as at our last meeting we examined a Communication Protocol which sets out guidelines that bpha staff and members of the Resident Scrutiny and Improvement Group are asked to adhere to when carrying out scrutiny duties. The protocol sets out clearly what is expected of both sides and was welcomed by everyone as it will help us to work effectively together.

The subject was up for discussion again at the East 7 Resident Scrutiny Conference at Duxford Imperial War Museum, with one of the workshops looking at the benefit of scrutiny from both a resident’s and a landlord’s point of view. It was interesting and enlightening to see how other panels work and the support they get from their organisations. The biggest difference in the landlords’ section was between housing associations and councils who still hold housing stock. It was very evident that scrutiny builds a valuable bridge between landlords and tenants and it is a bridge we want to keep building.

Service Improvement Panel Update 2

In the second of our series of regular blogs about the Resident Scrutiny and Improvement Group (RSIG), Judith Goodger gets us up to speed with what has been happening lately.

It was quite a shock seeing my photograph on the bpha website last month, I wasn’t expecting that but having got over the shock it is now time to write again to let you know what RSIG have been doing in July.

Two of the events I mentioned last month have taken place. The Bedfordshire Tenants’ Forum event entitled ‘Your Future, Your Housing’ was really interesting. Representatives from Bedfordshire registered social landlords and local authorities were there. What was great about it was that it was organised and run by residents. The session I found really interesting was comparing Resident Annual Reports, getting feedback and picking up ideas for future issues. Tracy, Mel and Sylvia are at the writing stage of bpha’s 2012 Annual Residents Report with the first draft going to the printers soon. We also took part in a budgeting exercise which highlighted the issue of Value for Money and prioritising where money should be spent according to customers’ expectations. Not an easy thing to do and one which prompted lots of discussion. I enjoyed that session and learned a lot from it.

I also enjoyed the Stakeholder Conference but unfortunately, due to a road accident (not me), I arrived late but in time to catch most of the presentations. The ‘road theme’ (see bpha’s 2012 Annual Report and Corporate Strategy) used to link all the speakers was excellent and RSIG got a mention of course!  We each sat at different tables to make the most of the networking opportunities. At my table, the main subject of conversation was ‘Affordable Homes’ and the difficulties experienced in delivering this but everyone enjoyed the lovely food at the Sharnbrook Hotel and left happy.

I am not involved in any reviews at the moment but Marion, Sylvia and Norman have completed their report following the mini review of Reception following a Mystery Shopping exercise and the resulting actions will be monitored by RSIG.

Our big scrutiny at the moment is the Neighbourhood Review. This was triggered by the results from the STAR 2012 survey and Tracy, Mel, Norman and Julian have been working on this and are busy meeting staff and residents. Reports on their findings and recommendations should be available next month.

There are two other big scrutiny projects coming up and new members are needed. Leaflets advertising RSIG vacancies, the involvement activities and time commitment are being sent out to tenants. I hope these are successful as I am enjoying being part of the RSIG group and hope others will too (photographs on websites aside!!).

Service Improvement Panel Update 1

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text animation=”no_animation”]Our Resident Scrutiny and Improvement Group (RSIG) helps to monitor our performance, make decisions and recommend changes to ensure that we continue to improve and have our customer interests at heart. In the first of a series of regular blogs about the Group’s activities, member Judith Goodger describes the work that she is involved with.

It’s always busy and lively at bpha Resident Scrutiny and Improvement Group (RSIG) meetings with lots of items to make decisions on and lots to plan.  I’ve been a member of RSIG for a year now and I still feel that I’m learning new things at every meeting. I’ve had a lot of training in scrutiny and presentation skills and at our June meeting, I was asked to write a blog (entirely new to me) to inform people what we do. So here goes…

This month we reviewed the STAR Customer Satisfaction Survey action plans from Housing Management, Property Services and Customer Contact in response to our comments at our April meeting on the STAR 2012 report. This report (based on questionnaires sent to a sample of 2,036 bpha residents) highlighted views and concerns expressed by those residents. The action plans to address areas of concern highlighted by RSIG will be closely monitored by us to ensure satisfactory outcomes in the timescales set.

We also looked at the Regulatory Standards for Housing Providers which came into force on 1st April 2012 and were published by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).  The HCA is the national housing and regeneration delivery agency for England, enabling local authorities, housing providers and communities to meet the ambition they have for their areas. The HCA took over from the Tenant Services Authority (TSA) in April. There are many reforms and changes in the new regulatory standards and the main area RSIG will be involved in is the ‘Tenant Involvement and Empowerment Standard’. RSIG will play a very important part in ensuring this standard is met as we are the scrutiny system for bpha so there will be much to plan and report on in the next 12 months.

Other items on the agenda were a report from the sub-group which looked into the mystery shopping report on personal visits to Pilgrims House. There was also a report from two members who had met with Judith and Adam to find out about the progress of Good to Great. We discussed the procedures for working successfully in subgroups and also heard about the Residents Annual Report for 2012 which RSIG are responsible for producing.

There’s a lot going on but the most exciting part of the meeting for me was planning RSIG involvements in a number of events which will take place in the next few months: there is the bpha Stakeholder Conference, Bedfordshire Tenants Forums Resident Networking event in July. In September there is the East 7 Scrutiny Conference. And of course there is our next meeting at the end of July.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]