Our Daily Roundup of Inside Housing's Digital Housing Week – Day 4

  26 JUNE, 2020
digital housing week day 4

Amongst the topics discussed on Day 4 of Digital Housing Week was the creation of a new normal for, and with, our communities. Here are the thoughts of Sophie Seddon, Sue Minkley, and Peter Hordley.  

During and after Covid-19, how do we begin to create a new normal for, and with, our communities?

Session attended by People and Culture Director Sophie Seddon and Housing Partnership Manager Sue Minkley

Sophie's Views:

  • The new normal for the next 12 months will largely be centred around preventing the spread of coronavirus, with hygiene and social distancing key priorities when going into properties.
    Medication and other health related issues will be in focus in order to look after tenants; identifying mental and physical illness during this time.
  • Reviewing internal space to improve mental wellbeing of residents, exploring issues such as home working, exercising at home, natural light and outdoor space. The consensus is that community and green space needs to be improved.
  • Increasing communication and liaison with tenants to understand individual needs. During Covid there has been an increase in this activity and this will not go away. We have an opportunity to reconnect with tenants in a new way – digital technology as enabled this.
    We have observed new relationships being built between landlord and tenant, and this should be built on.
  • There was an 80% reduction in repairs calls but a significant increase in welfare and Anti-social behaviour calls.
  • Reviewing new ways to do repairs, looking at ‘bundles’ – addressing all the repairs that need to be done and go in and do them in one go. Additionally, taking a look at efficiencies not only to save cost, but to impact less on tenants
  • An MOT style model for the home was proposed.

Sue's Views:

  • Engagement goes Digital! Connectivity both in terms of accessibility and affordability, is an area that will need to be addressed by the sector - online can be a lifeline for many.
  • Tackle inequality, service provision, employ more - greater opportunities for persons with disabilities as remote working becomes the new normal.
  • The increased and focused communication should be maintained and not abandoned – continue to build relationships with your customers, understand their needs, deliver services more efficiently.
  • We need to build at least 34,000 housing new age-designated homes annually to keep up with age profile. Design considerations are critical to adopt to the new normal post Covid.

Key messages from Head of Partnerships, Peter Hordley

  • A poll of those attending the session on Agile Working showed that 88.5% of participants organisations are going to continue allowing working from home for at least the next 6 months.
  • Communities are no longer a physical entity as we knew them before Covid, they are now also an online community too and the sector has to adapt to this (Jenny Osbourne, TPAS).
  • Early research is indicating that the suicide death rate arising from Covid may actually be higher than the death rate from Covid itself (Dr Raj Persaud).

Sign up to Digital Housing Week

You can sign up to see all sessions from Digital Housing Week for free by visiting the website here >>

sign for horton lodge school


Novus were already working on a building refurbishment contract at Horton Lodge Special School in Rudyard, where 3 respite overnight bedrooms were in need of redecoration. Novus and supply partner Dulux were happy to donate materials to the cause.  Horton Lodge Community Special School Situated in the picturesque lakeside village of Rudyard in Staffordshire, lies Horton Lodge School. As a special school, it aims to "provide high-quality teaching and learning where children are challenged and every individual is valued." The school caters for children aged from 2 to 11 years with physical disabilities, with many of the pupils experiencing additional learning difficulties, complex communication needs, and visual and / or hearing impairments. As the Stoke Sentinel reported in September, Horton Lodge was one of five Staffordshire schools that stood to lose funding for children’s overnight stays from this term before the funding cuts were ultimately put on hold. The refurbishment contract Horton Lodge has a residential provision known as "Kiplings" so named due to its proximity to Lake Rudyard. Kiplings is designed and managed to provide a homely environment for the school's children and young people.  The provision is designed to help build independent living skills as children learn to feed and bathe themselves, read to each other, and take part in creative activities. As part of the works, 3 bedrooms within Kiplings were in desperate need of refurbishment and redecoration, as the windows tended to leak into the rooms causing damp damage to the flooring and skirting. Novus were awarded the contract to carry out the refurbishments on the school, these works included: Refitting windows and doors to bedrooms Replacing the carpets Roof repairs Boiler replacement Shower refurbishments When complete, the refurbishments were described as a "real boost" to the school by the Headteacher. Donation of materials At the time, Horton Lodge were asking for donations of paint and curtains to redecorate their bedrooms in time for the return of the children after the summer break. Novus sourced the curtains and window tracks from a local Staffordshire supplier and donated them for use in the bedrooms. Supply partners Dulux also kindly donated the paint required to redecorate the bedrooms, which equated to over 65 litres free of charge. The school caretaker then decorated the bedrooms himself. Chris Lear, Senior Quantity Surveyor at Novus Property Solutions said: "It was our pleasure to donate these materials to Horton Lodge, the work they do with young people here is inspirational and we hope the children enjoy their new bedrooms."


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