"Housing associations deliver a range of vitally important services. But few can be as important as the care and independent living services we provide for some of our older and more vulnerable residents.
That’s why it was critical we quickly and successfully brought together Optivo’s and Southern Housing Group’s care, supported housing and independent living services following our merger in late 2022. We wanted the process to be seamless as possible for residents, but also to use it as a springboard for improvement.
Last year we went about achieving that by expanding opportunities for residents to have a say in how we deliver services. Gathering and acting upon resident feedback is a priority across the organisation and care and independent living is no exception.
In May, we reached a key milestone with the establishment of our Care & Support Specialist Advisory Forum. This sits in a prominent position within our resident governance structure and comprises 20 members. These include people with a learning disability, mental health issues and people with a care and support need drawn from a selection of our schemes on the Isle of Wight.
The forum reviews performance and has already identified several ways to improve how we communicate with residents. These include running ‘ice breaker’ exercises at the start of meetings to encourage confidence. And working with residents at each service to agree terms of reference for resident meetings clarifying each meetings’ purpose and how to participate.
We also offer a host of more informal ways for residents to get involved. During 2023, we promoted activities across our Independent Living services enabling residents to get involved and engaged with their schemes and wider community. We also started to explore the possibilities of co-creation, through which residents work alongside colleagues to identify and agree areas for improvement.
In December, Marilyn Plant, a resident from Green Meadows, our extra care scheme in Freshwater on the Isle of Wight, delivered a highly successful workshop with other members and colleagues on improving communication with residents. Reflecting back on the workshop, Marilyn told us: “It was good to get back in the business vibe, working with like-minded people to achieve a goal and I’m looking forward to doing the next one”.
A particular highlight of mine was our annual Supported Involvement Day (SID). Over 100 residents attended a day of celebration and fun activities on the Isle of Wight with 12 receiving an award for their achievements over the year.
Listening to and acting upon residents’ feedback is starting to pay dividends. From April to November 2023, 81% of residents living in our Independent Living schemes told us they were satisfied with the overall service they received. And, year-to-date, 93% of residents have told us they’re happy with the care and support we provide.
During 2024, we’ll continue to develop further opportunities for engagement so residents remain at the heart of all we do.”