Elderly using the The Housing Proactive services. Credit: okeachday
Following the outbreak of coronavirus, housing providers responsible for supported housing and sheltered accommodation have found themselves on the front line of providing services to those identified as being at a higher risk. How to effectively maintain contact with older residents while working remotely has been one of the hardest challenges to overcome.
Now, more than ever, it is clear to see the importance of daily contact and providing new ways of communicating with older residents or those with additional needs. Housing Proactive, Alertacall’s housing management system designed specifically for older persons and supported housing, is a service which has been described as ‘invaluable’ by providers in helping housing teams to keep residents informed and maintain a two-way channel of communication.
Around 50 housing providers across the UK, who use Housing Proactive, have found the service hugely beneficial during the pandemic. The service combines digital engagement with frequent human contact to confirm health and safety, improve repairs performance and to help detect changing needs.
Getting messages out, often at short notice, to residents is extremely important at this time. Going into lockdown happened quickly and there were multiple updates required relating to repairs, staff working patterns and general guidance information. This was particularly difficult for those working in sheltered housing given that older residents are far less likely to have internet access and thus unable to read email communications.
The Housing Proactive service provides residents with a specially developed portable touchscreen in a stand or telephone. Residents are given the choice to establish contact and exchange information digitally or can opt to receive a call from a friendly and knowledgeable adviser.
The service does not require residents to have a broadband connection, or even a landline, and the simple plug in devices make it easy to implement the service at properties, even during the lockdown.
Housing teams are able to access an online reporting platform which provides housing teams with a range of housing management reports in realtime. This helps to identify where issues may be developing and where staff should focus their time.
alertcall Features. Credit: alertacall
In a survey undertaken with 48 housing providers in July 2020, following the first lockdown period, the feedback was overwhelmingly positive, with 93% scoring the overall service 4 or 5 out of 5 in helping them maintain their services to residents. Suzy Horth, Project Manager, Business Transformation Team, at Saffron Housing Trust commented:
“During the coronavirus lockdown being able to send out regular updates to tenants and offer them new ways to communicate with us has been invaluable – particularly, given that our staff are working off-site. The online management information is especially useful in helping to identify any housing issues remotely. Importantly, through the Housing Proactive service, tenants have access to a friendly reassuring voice from their team on a daily basis if they wish – which helps to reduce the effects of social isolation.’
Ensuring an ongoing two-way channel of communication with older residents is an essential component of the Housing Proactive service. This benefits the residents by keeping them better informed, reassured and connected. The service also increases digital engagement in this customer group, which has significant benefits for housing providers – ensuring a proactive approach to property management and an improvement in customer care.’