If Social Housing Tenants Could Choose Who Repairs Their Home…

For all of the KPIs and metrics we track, for all the policies and data dashboards, the best test of how well a social housing repair and maintenance service works is how it looks through residents’ eyes.

A homeowner who needs work carried out on their house will go to a lot of effort to select the right tradespeople. You might ask for recommendations, research online reviews and maybe even ask to see examples of their work. You want to be confident that the person is competent to carry out the work properly and that they’re the sort of person you’re happy to have in your home.

Social housing tenants have exactly the same concerns. But they don’t have the same choice.

One of the key questions that drives the way Osborne delivers property services is: would residents still use us if they had the choice? If we can’t respond with a confident ‘yes’, there’s something wrong. You can write a lot of words around what a resident-centred culture means, but this question is essentially what it boils down to.

Do Residents Feel Safe and Supported?

Ensuring that residents feel safe and supported is a key part of the experience. We know that trust tends to build slowly and evaporate quickly with one or two bad experiences. This makes every interaction with our customer service teams or operatives highly significant.

Resident support is a core feature of the training all of our operatives go through. Our aim is to ensure that an operative in Osborne-branded clothing and showing their ID is a sight that residents find reassuring.

Meeting specific needs is vital. We do this in a number of ways including:

  • Using Text Relay, the Big Word, braille ID cards and other tools to communicate with residents with special needs and disabilities. Team members receive training in basic sign language skills and dementia awareness.
  • Providing translated material and using technology such as Google Translate through operative smartphones for residents who don’t have English as their first language.
  • In the case of lone women we offer a female RLO to act as chaperone or deploy female operatives wherever possible.
  • Toolbox Talks based on known religious preferences ensure our operatives act with cultural awareness and sensitivity.
  • Operatives and subcontractors are trained in each client’s safeguarding procedures and regularly reminded of how to report concerns or signs of abuse.
  • Where work is required in specialist housing we liaise with support staff to understand day-to-day running and care routines before planning the works.
  • In one contract where we have a large number of elderly residents we implement shorter working days to reduce disruption to care routines.

We aim to ensure that the experience viewed through a resident’s eyes is always a positive one and that they always feel safe and supported.

For more information contact Jo Fletcher (jo.fletcher@osborne.co.uk), or visit our free resource centre.