As part of their review the RST took part in a variety of methods to gain further information. This included the following:
The team looked at comparisons with similar organisations to Derwent Living who also provided keyworker accommodation. Though they found this to be somewhat limited, the team were able to look at the following organisations;
Sovereign Housing; offer Keyworker accommodation in Leicester but there appears to be no Keyworker rental accommodation available from housing associations in this area.
Their rents range from £391 for 4 bed cluster rooms to £985 for 3 bed flat. There are reductions for students. They also offer short stays of up to14 nights for £29 per night.
Sovereign Isle of White operates much the same as Sovereign Leicester with the exception that they offer accommodation for key workers who are not NHS employees.
Affinity Sutton; target the South East. They have an excellent video on their easy to negotiate website.
Thames Valley Housing; TVH advertise in their newsletter, and give good information including Benchmarking with Sovereign Housing. Their 4 bed cluster rooms are offered at £576.63 inclusive.1 bed flats £686.55 excluding council tax and utilities.
Peabody; offer homes to public sector workers in Health, Education and Community Safety. Rents to this sector are 20% -35% cheaper than market rents.
Orbit & Servite; websites difficult to navigate and with little information for comparison.
The RST visited Manor Park Court, and Embley Road, where they spent time talking to staff, as well as holding a meeting with Sandra Horsburgh, Keyworker Services Manager. On these occasions the team were able to pose questions to the staff, which in turn helped form their recommendations.
Inspections of rooms; the RST also carried out inspections of rooms at both sites, and were able to view the variety of accommodation on offer, in terms of size and number of rooms.
NHS employee, know to RST member, was also interviewed, their comments included being aware of the flats, but at the existing rent would want more comfort, likening the existing flats to Travel Lodge or Premier Inns, with little comfort and a bit institutional.
The RST were also provided with a copy of the NHS and Keyworker Allocations Policy.
The team were presented with the results of a recent satisfaction survey carried out with residents at Manor Park Court. Though there were only 9 sheets to look at the RST felt they had no reason to doubt this was a representative sample. They also found that many of the comments chimed with their own thoughts as they inspected the rooms.
The satisfaction survey showed less than 50% would recommend to family or friends, just over 50% thought the accommodation was value for money.
Derwent Living keyworker services seem to compare well with other Housing association's in terms of rents.
Wider marketing to other public sector workers and private medical care workers would be beneficial, e.g. Nuffield Hospital.
Give more prominence to Keyworker accommodation on the website.
Offer better comfort in the living areas.
Following on from their review into Keyworker services, the Resident Scrutiny Team make the following recommendations for consideration;
- Thorough room inspection prior to occupancy. Is there a checklist? If not put one in place
- Ensure cleaning staff are aware of varying shift patterns and keep noise to a minimum
- Review of the rent setting policy as there seem to be some anomalies (same rent for varying standard/size of room)
- Look at option to include Wi-Fi in rent as a standard feature and ensure minimum speed of connection
- Provision of extra washing machine at Manor Park Court, as referred to in satisfaction survey
- Standardisation between MPC and Embley Road, where possible.
- Is it possible to amend the MPC non-occupancy costs to mirror those at Embley Road(50/50 split)
- Look at possibility of increasing the number of head lease rooms at Embley Road when contract is next up for review
- Review of repairs performance/delivery at Embley Road site.
- Review priority times for Key worker repairs e.g. shower as emergency
- Redecoration needed at MPC to make it look more attractive and less institutional, including furniture.
- Review the Key worker section of the website to make it more user friendly and prominent. Affinity Sutton highlighted as best practice.
- Create a Key Worker handbook as per the Sovereign example
- Customer satisfaction surveys to be conducted at least annually and should be mirrored across all sites, with investigation of negative results based into an action plan.
- Look to non-NHS Key workers to cast the net wider for potential lettings.