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Resident Scrutiny Panel

Residents are directly influencing our services and

decision-making

What does the panel do?

  • Work with us to make sure that we are providing the services that are important to all our residents
  • Help us to put you, our residents, at the heart of everything that we do
  • Review our service delivery processes, measuring, testing and monitoring services
  • Make sure that we are as effective, efficient and economical as possible
  • Make recommendations for service improvements directly to our Board.

Meet the panel

Residents apply and are recruited onto the panel, have six months' induction training and continue to receive support and training throughout their time as panel members.

Abdul

Abdul Kader

Abdul is a tenant from Chatham who joined the scrutiny panel in spring 2023. He enjoys supporting vulnerable communities and spending time with friends and family.

Adam

Adam Field

Adam joined scrutiny in summer 2018. Once a GB athlete, Adam is now a dedicated tennis coach. In his spare time he likes watching Manchester United, enjoys cooking and loves spending time with his family and friends.

Alex

Alex Tuckwell

 Alex grew up in the Tunbridge Wells area. She has been a TCH tenant for 3 years and joined the scrutiny panel in 2021. She is currently training to be a counsellor and in her spare time loves to play video games and binge watch TV shows.

Kirsty

Kirsty East

Kirsty works in mental health and has been a shared owner since June 2021. She enjoys walks with her dog on the beach and socialising with friends and family.  Kirsty relocated to Kent from Dorset in 2018 and loves creating art in her spare time. 

Natalieann

Natalieann Leadbetter

Natalieann enjoys listening to music and seeing musicals at the theatre, and is big fan of Pink Floyd. She is a member of St John Ambulance and teaches first aid to both youth and adults. Her role in St John Ambulance is unit manager for Northfleet Cadets. She worked within the medical sector since 1999, started her nursing career in oncology at Joyce Green hospital and when the hospital closed moved to Darent Valley hospital in 2005 then went on to work for the ambulance service. As a mum of three disabled teenage children, she has a keen interest in child and adult mental health, wellbeing and neurodevelopmental disability. 

 

Paul

Paul Evans

Paul lives in a new build apartment in Tovil. His hobbies include a little DIY and spending time with his daughter and fiancée. He works at McDonald's which takes up most of his weekends. 

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Steve Hill

Steve works in finance and has been a shared owner since 2017. He is a keen tech enthusiast and loves hiking with his partner.

Teresa

Teresa Godden-O'Callaghan

Teresa has been a tenant with TCH since 2003. She is a mother to three children and a springer spaniel. She works as a hairdresser and lives in Tunbridge Wells. 

Valerie

Valerie George

Valerie has been a Shared-Ownership tenant since 2016. She is currently looking to pursue a nursing career in rheumatology. In her spare time she enjoys attending her local gym, spending time with family and friends and enjoying her lovely home with her partner.  

What’s involved:

  • Specialist resident scrutiny training and development
  • Up to ten meetings per year on Teams or at our Tunbridge Wells office
  • Activities in between meetings – reading information, forming opinions and giving objective feedback via email or telephone
  • Undertaking occasional site visits and shadowing of services.

What we offer in return:

  • An allowance of £1,365 per year (after completion of a satisfactory probation period); OR
  • £365 in vouchers + £1,000 in life and employment skills training
  • Personal development through specialist resident scrutiny training and development
  • Coaching and mentoring
  • A unique insight into Town & Country Housing’s services
  • Free transport to and from meetings and site visits, or reimbursement of transport expenses
  • Out of pocket expenses
  • Food and refreshments at in-person meetings.
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What are the panel reviewing at the moment?

The panel have just finished a review of the damp and mould service. They finalised their recommendations before Christmas and presented them to board at the end of January 2024. The proposed action plan was agreed and will be implemented. The panel started a review of our complaints process at the end of January 2024.

 

Service reviews and recommendations:

Below is a list of all the service areas that the panel have reviewed to date. Under each heading you can see the recommendations.

The service of preventing, reporting and resolving damp and mould in our residents’ homes

Review date Apr 2023 to Dec 2023

Status of recommendations implemented:  In progress

In December 2023, the panel concluded a review of our damp and mould service. They made 20 recommendations for service improvement including:

  • Ensure that the presence of working extractors and functioning heating systems are checked as part of the stock condition survey or at the void (empty property) stage.
  • When the condensation, damp and mould policy is reviewed, consider the use of more empathetic language to better reflect the joint responsibility approach.
  • The panel are aware that where residents are given no or the wrong information about the type of heating in their home from the outset, this could be a cause for escalation, when and if future damp and mould issues occur. Likewise, ensure that TCHR/other contractors are made aware before they arrive about the type of heating in each home and the number of occupants.
  • To facilitate damp and mould interventions, the panel are aware that TCHR sometimes must remove décor such as wallpaper that residents have funded themselves (often at considerable expense). Can TCHR better signpost these residents where they cannot afford a like for like replacement, such as through Dr Peetes charity in the Thanet area or via the Turn2Us website? If feasible, give residents the option of having TCHR replace wall coverings if they may struggle to do this themselves e.g. due to disability.

 

A full list of the recommendations can be found in the panel’s board report.

This service covers difficulties in neighbourhoods such as antisocial behaviour and domestic abuse.

Review date Sep 2022 to Mar 2023

Status of recommendations implemented:  In progress

In September 2022, the panel began a review of the community safety service.

The panel finished the review and made service improvement recommendations including:

  • For consistency, ensure the React system is used to record all community safety cases and identify a lead person to report outcomes to the complainant. Ensure information about a case is transitioned in full when passed to another member of staff so a resident does not have to keep explaining the issue, this will help to reduce the time that residents feel they wait for a resolution.
  • In the anti-social behaviour policy, consider including a list of the ways to make contact, give examples of what might be classed as urgent or severe. Explain where an ‘appointment’ might take place and change the wording in point 7.5 about not moving a resident so perpetrators will not feel that their actions do not have consequences. Add a sentence about fast tracking cases for residents with defined vulnerabilities.
  • Ensure information about the community safety service features in leasehold documents and on the ‘Love Living Home’ website.
  • Consider using anonymised real-life stories on the TCH website to provide a variety of ways to access community safety information for residents where English is a second language. The panel are aware the website remains under development but would still like to see more information to provide advice, help and guidance.

A full list of the recommendations can be found in the panel's Board report.

The tenancy sustainment service supports residents who may be at risk of losing their home for example due to ill-health, debt, abuse or reduced income.

Review date Jan 2022 – Oct 2022

Status of recommendations implemented:  In progress

The review resulted in 10 recommendations for service improvements, including to:

  • Improve website information with more information about the types of tenancy support available.
  • Publish how many residents are supported each year with case studies (alongside better website information).
  • Consider how the service can be included at the pre-tenancy stage for all tenures.

A full list of the recommendations can be found in the panel's Board report.

Using the voice of our residents to influence change in staff recruitment, induction and training and procurement.

Review date Jul 2021 – Dec 2021

Status of recommendations implemented:  In progress

The review resulted in 22 recommendations for service improvements, including to:

  • Give more equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) information on the TCH website and make it more prominent. Alongside this, provide more explanation about TCH’s values and how they are linked to our EDI approach.
  • Provide an ongoing dialogue about equality, diversity and inclusion for staff, possibly using the quarterly staff briefings which bring all TCH staff together.
  • Consider if a mechanism can be developed to swap life stories between staff and residents.

A full list of the recommendations can be found in the panel's Board report.

Using the ‘resident voice’ to influence change made through recommendations following review of digital communication and service standards.

Review date Nov 2020 – Jun 2021

Status of recommendations implemented:  In progress

The review resulted in 41 recommendations for service improvements, including to:

  • To avoid the use of the term ‘local offers’ on the website, in correspondence and in communications generally.
  • Develop simple and measurable service standards for all customer facing services so residents know what to expect and can understand quickly if the service is being delivered to the expected standard or not.
  • Consult with residents more widely about the content of service standards for specific services (where this is not already defined e.g. in an existing policy or procedure).
  • Avoid use of the term ‘service standards’ as it is jargon and too technical. Instead use ‘our/TCH’s commitments to you’, ‘our/TCH’s promises to you’ or similar.

A full list of the recommendations can be found in the panel's Board report.

Service charges are for communal costs such as cleaning, gardening, servicing of lifts and electricity and gas.

Review date Dec 2019 – Oct 2020

Status of recommendations implemented:  Complete

In January 2020, the panel began a review of service charges, focusing on improving transparency and customer satisfaction.

Despite having to work remotely due to the Coronavirus lockdown, the panel concluded their review and made 19 service improvement recommendations. Including to:

  • Improve the search function of the website, separate the rent and service charge information and link TCH website, Love Living Homes and My Home Online by using clearer branding.
  • Improve the presentation and transparency of statements and clarify that TCH does not make a profit from service charges.
  • Explore if digital technology is available to provide residents with evidence of contractors completing requirements (e.g. grounds maintenance and cleaning) and if snapshot surveys by email or SMS can be undertaken after services have been developed.
  • Provide more information about sinking funds, and the environmental impact of fly tipping
  • Create a newsletter for leaseholders and shared owners similar to the one sent to tenants.

A full list of the recommendations can be found in the panel's Board report.

The services specific to our leasehold and shared owner residents

Review date Feb 2019 to Oct 2019

Status of recommendations implemented:  Complete

In February 2019, the panel began a review of leasehold and shared owner services.

The panel finished the review and made service improvement recommendations including:

  • Overhaul of the shared ownership Love Living Homes website to include case studies, explanatory videos and examples of likely costs.
  • Delivery of regular engagement and involvement opportunities for leaseholders and shared owners with regular chances to influence initiatives and policies which specifically affect them.
  • Avoidance of segregation of tenants and shared owners (by separate entrances) within the same building in new home developments.

Careful consideration to be given before implementing third party collection of utility charges in new home developments.

A full list of the recommendations can be found in the panel's Board report.

The planned repairs and maintenance service looks after our home improvement programmes.

Review date May 2018 to Dec 2018  

Status of recommendations implemented:  Complete

In December 2018, the panel concluded their seventh service review of the planned repairs and maintenance service.

The review culminated in ten recommendations for service improvement, including to:

  • A review of the language and branding currently used in written communications and on the website, specifically the words ‘cyclical’ and ‘planned’ as these can be confusing for residents
  • Ensuring that all complaints feedback is passed back to the relevant contractor, regardless of whether the complaint is upheld or not
  • The simplification of some written communications, including the letter to advise about a forthcoming stock condition survey and the letter to advise about imminent external improvement works to make them clearer for residents
  • The panel’s Board report and full details of the recommendations can be found here: Planned repairs & maintenance service review, Planned repairs & maintenance service action plan

A full list of the recommendations can be found in the panel's Board report.

The responsive gas repairs service is responsible for maintaining and repairing the gas heating systems in our properties.

Review date Sep 2017 – Apr 2018

Status of recommendations implemented:  Complete

In September 2017, the panel began a review of the responsive gas services delivered by Swale Heating Ltd, such as heating and hot water repairs.

The review resulted in nine recommendations for service improvements, including to:

  • Develop a service standard and improved information about gas repairs on the website so residents can see how to report a repair, typical response times and so on;
  • Revise and publish the engineer’s code of conduct on the website;
  • Explore future self-service options e.g. booking more specific appointment times;
  • Include the above as well as several other recommendations in the retender process for responsive and planned gas services, due to commence in late 2018.

A full list of the recommendations can be found in the panel's Board report.

The money support service is on hand to help our residents with budgeting advice and support with welfare benefits.

Review date Jan 2017– Jul 2017

Status of recommendations implemented:  Complete

The panel selected the money support service because of the welfare reform agenda and its continued impact on residents.

  • The review culminated in a number of recommendations for service improvement, including the following:
  • Improved information about the service on the website and elsewhere to enable tenants to self refer;
  • More self help tools on the website such as an explanatory video about the service and better sign posting to external sources of assistance;
  • Better publicity on the website about the outstanding work of the service, including anonymised case studies.

A full list of the recommendations can be found in the panel's Board report.

The ground maintenance service looks after the shared spaces outside our properties and makes sure it is maintained to good standard.

Review date Jan 2016 –  Sep 2016

Status of recommendations implemented:  Complete

A number of recommendations were made, across six categories, including to:

  • Improving information to tenants, including on the website and through Spotlight, on their responsibilities and about TCH’s maintenance methods and practices
  • Provide grounds maintenance performance information on website
  • Make contracts clearer regarding removal of Ivy, weeding and hedge cutting and ensure this requirements are enforced
  • Assist Neighbourhood Housing Managers by improving grading form and documenting areas that are tenant-maintained

A full list of the recommendations can be found in the panel's Board report.

The Void (Empty Homes) Standard is the condition we expect our properties be in before they are let to a new resident.

Review date Jul 2015 – Nov 2015

Status of recommendations implemented:  Complete

In November 2015, the panel concluded their third service review on Void Standard.

16 recommendations were made for improvement including to:

  • Consider making a loft insulation check part of the voids inspection and including loft insulation improvements as part of the voids works process.
  • Ensure one consistent void standard is in use and one clear set of policies and processes is established for use by all contractors & TCHG staff
  • Create document/on-line link giving property information (including heating type and instructions, location of stopcocks, tenant responsibility for trees, fencing etc.) and ‘local area information’ like car parking, bin collection days etc.
  • The panel’s Board report and full details of the recommendations can be found here: Void (Empty Homes) Standard Review, Void (Empty Homes) Standard Action Plan

A full list of the recommendations can be found in the panel's Board report.

The day-to-day repairs service is responsible for making general repairs to our properties when something needs fixing.

Review date Oct 2014 – May 2015

Status of recommendations implemented:  Complete

In May 2015, the panel concluded their second service review of day to day (Responsive) repairs

32 recommendations were made including to:

  • Integrate Countrywise Repairs into customer database, improve texting system and introduce automated texting to enhance communication
  • Review Code of Conduct and Customer Service Standards so CWR, Mears and Swale are consistent
  • Improve call centre phone options for reporting repairs as they are currently in a confusing order

A full list of the recommendations can be found in the panel's Board report.

The customer service team are residents first point of contact. They will answer your general emails and telephone queries and if they can’t help will direct residents to the correct team.

Review date Apr 2014 – Sep 2014

Status of recommendations implemented:  Complete

In September 2014, the panel concluded their first service review on Customer Service.

They made 14 recommendations including to:

  • Improve systems to support the Customer Service team to deal with queries
  • Improve systems to achieve better communication with the Customer Service Centre and improve information sharing with Countrywise repairs
  • Review rent and service charge letters and “Easy ways to Pay” leaflet to make them more customer friendly
  • Improve systems to communicate concerns about vulnerable customers

A full list of the recommendations can be found in the panel's Board report.

Make a request for a service to be reviewed

It is very important that all residents have an opportunity to influence which services the panel scrutinise. The ‘resident call for scrutiny’ enables residents to ask the panel to review an area of the business on their behalf.

If you are concerned about the quality of a service that we offer, you can contact the panel to request that they consider reviewing a specific service as part of their review programme – just contact us.

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Can I join the panel?

Unfortunately, we don't have any vacancies to join our panel at the moment. However, when a vacancy becomes available, we will share it through our resident e-newsletter and social media channels.