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Near Me continues to benefit social landlords and their tenants

By Fiona McCrae, Near Me in Housing Lead.

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I recently joined SFHA as Near Me in Housing Lead, in a Scottish Government-funded post for 12 months to support the roll-out of video calling services across the housing sector. Near Me was a welcome addition at the start of lockdown and continues to have so many benefits for tenants, customers, and frontline workers. Near Me Video Appointments offer greater flexibility, enabling tenants and customers to feel empowered with the increased choice in engaging with appointments.
 
In my role, I am responsible for providing a comprehensive first point of contact to all SFHA members, local authorities, and other stakeholders, from setting up accounts to sharing peers’ experiences. The public sector license, made available through the Scottish Government, enables local authorities, housing associations and co-operatives to use Near Me for free until at least 2023. This allows landlords to offer their tenants an additional, a secure video call option for accessing services e.g., housing management, viewings/assessing reported repairs, welfare benefit advice etc. In collaboration with the NHS Near Me Team, we have developed housing-specific guidelines to support services adopting and embedding Near Me as another way to communicate with tenants.

Many services have adopted Near Me as another tool to communicate with tenants. I have been inspired hearing housing associations and co-operatives’ experiences of using Near Me and heartened by their resourcefulness and resilience.

Bridgewater Housing Association trialled Near Me in its Housing Support Service (sheltered housing) to engage with sheltered tenants through face-to-face calls, initially to reduce isolation and loneliness. During the pandemic, staff have been working from home and have been carrying out enhanced welfare calls via the telephone to tenants. Once Bridgewater became experienced with using the platform, it enabled the organisation to have a visual check-in with tenants while carrying out welfare calls. Bridgewater is now looking to develop and utilise Near Me for support plan reviews which are currently being carried out over the phone. Having the video call option will enable family members to be involved in reviews, too. Bridgewater has confirmed its commitment to provision of opportunities for tenants to maximise the opportunities that digital technologies can bring – it was one of the first social landlords to sign up to the TEC (Technology Enabled Care) in Housing Charter.

The Near Me platform is continuing to develop, and there will be an additional function in coming months for group consultations for up to 30 people onscreen at a time and 70 can join the call. As with the individual appointments on Near Me, the group consultations would ensure a secure and GDPR-compliant video appointment platform.

 SFHA has been involved in development of a new Near Me video which shows how Near Me can be used in Housing

Appointments by Near Me

Applying for Near Me access 

Near Me is easy to set up within your organisation. In the first instance, please arrange a demonstration session with me. Please contact fmccrae@sfha.co.uk  to set up a session.

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