As a resident focused housing association, resident involvement has always been at the heart of the SBHG service and foundation of good governance. This has been the approach for more than 20 years when a small group of tenants asked for greater resident involvement in SBHG. This evolved into our SBHG’s Independent Tenants’ Committee in 1988, a pioneering development for the sector.
Tenants now make up one third of the board membership.
The truest measure of satisfaction is the comments residents make and the feedback they give. To make sure that they get a representative view SBHG introduced the annual Big Conversation. Every member of staff goes out to visit our residents in their homes. This means that staff that might not otherwise come into contact with residents, such as the finance team), get to meet residents in their home, which gives them a greater understanding of the properties
SBHG owns and manages, the residents’ needs and the communities they live in and they find out first-hand what residents really think of their service. The context therefore is to build on our strong history of involving residents in the delivery and shaping of services and to engage staff in that journey.
The core idea behind the Big Conversation has been to ask residents to assess the service provided by SBHG, to inform service and
business development and ensure robust resident-led governance. Big Conversation supports the “co-regulatory” approach with a real emphasis on involving residents in the improvement and scrutiny of service delivery.
Big Conversation sees all SBHG staff- from the chief executive to apprentices but excluding repairs operatives
who visit homes daily- out visiting residents in their own homes. The objective is to have a Big Conversation about their service, levels of knowledge about additional services offered by SBHG and to pick up on any issues or problems which need addressing.
Each member of staff is personally responsible for following through any actions from the visits, helping them engage with the service. The objectives therefore are to fully involve residents in governance, improve services and help staff engage in the improvement journey.
As well as engaging staff and residents in their service SBHG has:
▶ Seen an increase in overall satisfaction from 70% to 77% since 2010.
▶ Seen an increase in residents’ satisfaction that their views are listened to and acted on from 50% to 61%; the Big
Conversation has been a significant factor in this increase.
▶ Used it to target areas of business priority or concern such as the enhanced online facilities launched in 2015.
As a result of Big Conversation SBHG has developed action plans which resulted in:
▶ Changing staffing structures and the way it deals with anti-social behaviour cases. This has seen a steady increase
in satisfaction and a corresponding lightening of the work needed to be carried out by partner’s agencies such as
the police and local authorities.
▶ Reviewing and restructuring the complaints policy.
▶ Reviewing and improving the whole ‘repair journey’ from reporting the repair to it being carried out. This was in direct response to residents highlighting this was their number one service priority in the Big Conversation.
▶ Doubling the size of roofing and window contracts
The Big Conversation has grown in scale to become the most insightful feedback tool for SBHG. While the concept is in itself innovative the organisation keeps adding new dimensions such as:
▶ A campervan as mobile consultation unit which has increased engagement.
▶ Thematic “Little Conversations” are used as follow ups to dig deeper and gain even more insight.
▶ Specialized software allows making the best use possible of the results, integrating them fully into business planning.
▶ The relaxed setting encourages people to sign up for services such as computer training.
▶ The introduction of tablets increased efficiency and sends out the digital message.
The project was replicated in France by Est Métropole Habitat.
Number of staff: 230
Number of dwellings managed by the organization: 5.200