In 2019, United Welsh won the ‘New Ideas and Approaches’ award in partnership with Alertacall at the CIH Welsh Housing Awards. The award was presented for the joint deployment of Housing Proactive, Alertacall’s housing management system, in their older persons’ schemes to help increase tenant engagement with their housing service. In particular, the system has helped to improve tenant communication, repairs performance and overall service delivery.
The case study provides an overview of the last four years and in particular looks at how beneficial Housing Proactive has been in helping United Welsh’s Living Well team throughout 2020.
South Wales housing association United Welsh were seeking a cost-effective solution to replace ageing hard-wired alarm systems in their sheltered schemes for older people.
A declining number of out of hours calls being made to the remote monitoring centre also reflected the shift to a younger (55+) age profile who either didn’t want to or need to engage with these devices. Furthermore, many tenants were also opting out of traditional morning calls carried out by on-site staff – which were carried out at set times, Monday – Friday only and, therefore, didn’t offer much flexibility.
While seeking to create efficiencies, United Welsh also wanted to improve service delivery by offering more effective tenant communication and promoting independent living by enabling individuals to better manage their tenancies.
Addressing a need
After evaluating several different options United Welsh selected Housing Proactive, Alertacall’s housing management system, which increases contact between housing providers and customers with higher needs. The service was first implemented by United Welsh in September 2017 at 204 properties following a consultation period with tenants, who overwhelmingly voted for the service to be introduced. In September 2019, the service was installed at a further 200+ properties and United Welsh and Alertacall went on to receive the ‘New ideas and approaches’ award at the CIH Welsh Housing Awards 2019. United Welsh are now planning on extending the service to more properties in September 2021.
The Housing Proactive service combines innovative technology and a highly trained team – all team members receive specialised training on communicating with higher needs groups, including vulnerable adults, mental health, dementia and suicide awareness.
Tenants routinely engage with a range of devices specially developed by Alertacall, including telephones, mobile hubs and touchscreens (enabling better digital inclusion). Devices all have an OKEachDay button – technology pioneered by Alertacall – which tenants press to collect news and important information from United Welsh in relation to their property or tenancy. The messaging service has proved extremely beneficial during the Coronavirus outbreak and has enabled the team to send out updates to service changes at short notice.
Tenant engagement with these devices proactively confirms occupancy and that there are no outstanding repairs or issues that need reporting. If people choose not to engage with their device, the Alertacall team call them – ensuring there is the option to speak to someone on a daily basis, which in turn can help to reduce loneliness. Therefore, the service gives tenants greater independence, by providing them with contact at a time that suits them and in the form they want.
Data around service interactions is recorded and made available in real-time via secure online reporting to United Welsh staff. The reports provide oversight of the properties used by older tenants, including occupancy tracking.
Daily contact over many years has provided millions of data points from which Alertacall bases its Artificial Intelligence (‘AI’). This AI tracks how customers interact with the service, and can detect that an individual’s housing needs might be changing, such as needing more staff time, more assistive technology or the need for different accommodation due to declining mobility or cognitive ability. The reports and service removes time consuming tasks from the housing team and enables them to better focus their time.
Value for money
Housing Proactive has a low weekly fee per property without any set up, maintenance or capital costs. Alertacall also undertakes research on customer satisfaction at no cost.
Where a service charge has been levied in sheltered housing in order to recover the cost of the service, the responsible local authority has deemed the service charge eligible to be met by housing benefit.
Increased tenant interaction – 409 properties (January – December 2020)
- 89,833 button presses confirming everything OK at tenant properties
- 60,037 outgoing calls to tenants
- 2,729 calls taken by Alertacall from tenants
- 1,154 individual occasions where Alertacall couldn’t confirm everything was ok at a property and the issue was handed over to the team at United Welsh
- 152,599 total customer touchpoints
- Daily contact
- Minimum of 1497 hours of staff time saved through Alertacall taking responsibility for morning calls giving tenants greater flexibility of the levels and types of contact received (figure based on each call lasting 60 seconds)
- Reduced social isolation
- Easier & quicker communication delivered
- 69 messages delivered in 2020 to residents – 47 standard messages (scheduled in advance e.g. for planned maintenance work or health and safety) and 22 emergency messages (flooding and COVID-19 update).
- Hotline ‘repairs’ button
- Increased independence and improved repairs performance – an additional 138 repairs picked up due to proactive property checks in 2020.
- Management Reporting
- Greater insight into changing needs
- Better resource planning
In their own words…
Andrew Burns, Team Leader, United Welsh:
“Alertacall and United Welsh have developed a great partnership over the last 4 years. Both the staff and tenants were quick to see the benefits of Housing Proactive. The online reporting provides excellent insight and overall the service has allowed staff to focus their efforts on supporting those tenants in the greatest need and in delivering a more efficient housing management service. It gives more flexibility to customers and staff, and I would definitely recommend it. The messaging service has been invaluable throughout the pandemic as we needed to regularly update tenants on the changing lockdown rules, often at short notice.”
For more information on how Housing Proactive will benefit your residents and organisation, email Benjamin Lambert, Head of Client Relations, on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0808 208 1234.