While we have had to postpone our recent involvement activity following the outbreak of the Coronavirus, NHG’s Resident Involvement Team has had a busy few months gathering feedback and enabling residents to have their say.
The resident involvement team’s purpose is to enable residents to feedback on and improve the services they receive. The team works with staff across the organisation to identify opportunities to involve residents. This could include open meetings, panels, residents’ associations, consultations and focus groups.
In 2019/2020, a total of 349 residents took part in 62 resident involvement activities. In addition to this, we have recently developed a way of measuring our resident involvement activities, in order to identify how feedback is directly helping to improve our services. We will publish this impact report in full in our Annual Standards Report later this year.
In the meantime, below is a summary of what residents have been telling us, what will happen next and how to get involved.
The latest resident feedback: what you have been saying
Since the start of 2020, the resident involvement team’s main focus has been organising Local Forums (open meetings) for residents to hear updates about their housing services and to give feedback. Between January and March this year, these took place across four regions, in the boroughs of Brent, Hammersmith and Fulham, Lambeth, Newham and Ealing. The most common issues discussed were:
• Complaints handling and the need for clarity about the complaints procedure
• Staff turnover and how this impacts resident satisfaction with the service
• Service standards: what residents can expect from NHG staff, who is responsible for what and how long things take
• Planned works (residents want to know what’s in our programme)
• Health and safety matters (building and fire safety regulation and assessments)
• Repairs (value for money and communication).
What's next and what else has been happening?
Some of our resident scrutiny groups - groups of local residents who look at feedback from the local forums in more detail – will work with staff to tackle more complex issues and make recommendations that can be applied across all regions. For example:
• The Hammersmith and Fulham Scrutiny Panel will be looking specifically at communication and standards around gas safety compliance, and how contractors and NHG communicate with residents particularly by letter.
• The Kensington and Chelsea Scrutiny Panel will focus on repairs and value for money.
• In Lambeth, the group of residents on the Bolney Meadow estate will work with their contractor, Just Ask, to develop an action plan to address some of the cleaning issues they identified.
• Elsewhere, our Oversight and Scrutiny Group – a group of residents set up to examine issues and services affecting all residents – is preparing to discuss fire and building safety with NHG staff. The Group will explore everything from fire risk assessments and compliance, to evacuation procedures and what information is available to residents. Last year, the group made a significant recommendation that residents should be able to get involved in the procurement of some of our contracts, which has recently been formalised by the procurement team.
• Residents on our Asset Management steering group – which helps staff shape their strategy around how NHG builds and maintains our homes – has recently been reviewing property data, service standards, quality of works, and communications around planned works. At a future round of Local Forums, Helen McGregor, director of asset management, will update residents on how this strategy is developing, and discuss the co-designed NHG Home Standard – a set of principles required for all existing Notting Hill Genesis homes to meet and provide the criteria for planned investment going forward. This has been a key piece of work shaped with the help of the steering group.
• Last year, we formed a small focus group of residents to give feedback around how to improve the resident experience of the service charge process. The group gave feedback about the information residents receive and made a series of recommendations around formatting, language and content and the means by which residents can respond and challenge. Thanks to this group, the pilot resulted in fewer queries from residents and some positive feedback on the clarity of information available. The group will continue to support the service charge team and help monitor future service charge cycles.
• Our Health and Disability panel – which works to ensure that all NHG services are accessible to anyone with a physical or mental disability - has also been working hard, volunteering to offer their experiences to help NHG help residents sustain their tenancies through support and partnerships for things like benefits, debt advice and employment.
• Residents assisted with the recruitment of a new concierge at City Park West, while a similar exercise is currently taking place at Stratford Halo to recruit a night security service. We continue to support our constituted residents' associations, and recently helped to set up a new association in Camden. All of our guidance about setting up your own Residents’ Association can be found on our website.
• Finally, we enlisted some residents to help give feedback around the new rents booklet, which explains to residents how their rents are calculated, to make this clearer and easier to understand. The booklet will be published on the NHG website soon.
There are many opportunities for residents like you to get involved and have your say, and we are delighted to have welcomed so many new faces to our meetings in the last year. Residents can take a deeper dive into issues via our scrutiny groups and panels, and we have an extensive toolkit available on our website for those of you looking to set up a Residents’ Association.
While some of our resident involvement groups do have limits on the number of people that can join, we would like residents who may be particularly interested in a specific subject area to get involved in local scrutiny groups. We hope to continue to set up a series of task and finish projects for residents to work alongside staff and focus on issues, either locally or across the regions.
Even before the Coronavirus outbreak, we were beginning to involve residents remotely, for example consulting on the rent booklets over email, so even if you can’t physically make it to one of our meetings, there may be some opportunities for you to get involved remotely.