When the pandemic hit our country back in March, we had to make a series of rapid decisions about what we would prioritise in response to coronavirus. We knew very early on that we needed to put in place a whole range of additional support for those residents in our communities who are most vulnerable to the virus.
This began with our Housing and Community Services team contacting every resident – making over 2,000 calls – to find out if they had everything they needed and identifying any additional support they would find helpful during lockdown. We prioritised those calls to residents aged over 70 and/or residents with a disability that we were aware of.
We were pleased to see that these calls were very well received, and it was clear many residents really appreciated this contact in what was, and continues to be, a significant period of uncertainty
Once we knew who wanted regular calls from us, we could plan our response. As a result we contacted 175 residents every day and nearly 100 residents on a weekly basis.
It has been so heartwarming to hear of all the new bonds and relationships which have developed between residents and our staff. The relatively simple act of taking some time out of your day to chat with someone who may well be living alone has made a massive difference.
Our staff have also really appreciated an opportunity to connect with residents in a more informal way beyond the usual enquiries around rent and repairs. It has felt more like supporting friends.
Rachel, Customer Services Adviser, explains -
‘One of my calls was to a lady in her 80’s and she had just done her first online supermarket shop and was over the moon she was able to do this. The encouragement from her family and support from JRHT calls helped her confidence and ability. It made my day too as she was very excited to tell me it all went well!
Debbie Pemberton, Customer Services Manager, says -
“Our welfare calls have helped form new relationships with some of our residents, very different from a landlord and resident and more like supporting friends”
In turbulent times like this, where we realise how vital it is we all pull together and embrace the things we have in common. These welfare calls have helped tackle the risk of large numbers of people being left cut off from vital support.
Now we are moving forward into the next phase of our response to the pandemic, we are reviewing how best we can sustainably support all our residents in terms of their social, health and financial wellbeing in the longer term. We will be providing further updates in the coming weeks and months. However, one thing is for sure, for as long as the pandemic is ongoing, we must recognise it still poses a threat and we will be very cautious about how we begin to reintroduce services.