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SFHA Covid-19 briefing series: service delivery

By Cassandra Dove, SFHA Research Adviser. 

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SFHA has produced a series of 10 briefings to help social landlords through the coronavirus emergency. This blog focuses on our service delivery briefing.  

Organisations across the country have had to make significant changes to how they deliver services, over the last few months, and housing associations have risen to this challenge by embracing new working practices and quickly adopting alternative service delivery models. This level of adaptability is remarkable when considering the speed at which the outbreak has developed and the rapidly evolving guidance which we are all being asked to follow. 

Looking back to the initial publication of the service delivery briefing, in mid-March, the first version of the document required almost immediate revisions as we entered the lockdown phase.

Keeping up to date with the latest guidance has been a challenge for us all, and the aim of the briefings has been to collate and assimilate key information for SFHA members.

With regards to service delivery, important topics have included key worker classification, Covid-19 testing eligibility and continuing to allocate properties for those in extreme need alongside broader themes of managing staff, managing essential services, communicating with tenants and supporting physical distancing.  

While the situation continues to evolve, evidenced by the fact that, this week, we have published the eighth version of the briefing, it is also encouraging to see the wealth of useful resources that have been produced in that time. The number of webinars, practical guides, tools and templates that have emerged in response to the coronavirus outbreak highlights the shift to alternative delivery models, particularly for organisations like housing associations that usually provide face-to-face communication and support.   

While the first version of the service delivery briefing discussed the potential closure of housing association offices, we are now in a situation where these premises have been closed to the public for several months, with the majority of staff now working from home and providing support to tenants remotely. Repairs and maintenance works have also been put on an emergency footing, with non-essential works paused following the Scottish Government’s construction sector guidance. While home working is likely to remain the default position for some time to come, the Scottish Government’s route map now offers a path towards resuming some of these key services.  

At the time of writing, Scotland is now in phase one of the overall route map, and this position will be reviewed every three weeks in order to gauge the most appropriate transition to the next phase. SFHA and the Social Housing Resilience Group have therefore been working on the sector’s response to the proposed route map and this week have published a Guide to Restarting Services. This contains more forward-looking advice in relation to re-opening offices and resuming services in tenants' homes.

We have also now launched Open Space – an online platform for sharing good practice, new ideas and goals across the housing sector in an effort to support shared learning and collaborative solutions to new challenges, including new approaches to service delivery. If you would like to contribute your own examples, idea or goals, then please submit via this online form.  

SFHA will continue to update the service delivery briefing with relevant guidance and information. The latest version can be accessed on our Covid-19 briefing page, along with our other Covid-19 briefings.  

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