Fife Housing

Fife Housing

Committed to Excellence

2014

Background

Fife Housing Association is a charitable registered social landlord (RSL) that owns and manages around 2,430 general needs houses and provides factoring services to a further 89. It employs 65 full time equivalent staff including its direct labour workforce.  With offices in Pitreavie (Dunfermline) and Lochgelly, our homes are spread across Fife, although most of our property is within commuting distance of the bridgehead area. Our turnover for the year ending 31 March 2013 was just over £10.2 million and we have one unregistered subsidiary, PACT Enterprises Ltd (PACT) which provides market rented properties and housing for sale. We are committed to be a provider of excellent housing and related services to the people of Fife, with a continued focus on those in greatest need.

 

Why Committed to Excellence?

In 2012 the Scottish Housing Regulator carried out an Inquiry to assess the effectiveness of important aspects of our governance and whether Fife HA had the awareness, willingness and ability to improve its standards of governance.Later in 2012, the Association undertook satisfaction surveys of key stakeholders - Tenants, Staff and other stakeholder groups - a key requirement of delivering the Scottish Social Housing Charter outcomes. For our key Customers (tenants) – overall satisfaction with the service provided had dropped from 86% in 2008 to 75% in 2012.

We recognised that good governance and service improvement required the whole organisation to be engaged in self-assessment.  That is why we joined Quality Scotland in 2013 to work through the process of what we were doing well and what  our priorities were for improvement.

 

Our Journey

The Regulators inquiry report and satisfaction survey results shook the whole organisation out of it’s comfort zone. It sent out a clear message that the Association had to change urgently, requiring a root and branch review of its governance and management of services and to focus on improving service satisfaction outcomes. 

As a consequence of the above, morale across the organisation was low, as both staff and board members faced an uncertain future. We needed an improvement model that helped both board members and staff undertake a robust self-analysis and assessment – which could then help the organisation pull all the planning and development requirements of the Association together, providing an overall framework for prioritising our improvement activities.

Working with Quality Scotland we developed the Fife Action Model for Excellence (FAME) to provide a systematic and comprehensive self-assessment of our preparedness for change and improvement – identifying our strengths and key areas for improvement.

The journey began with a facilitated self-assessment for Board Members using the FAME model. Using the EFQM model as the framework, participants were asked individually to rate the organisation within nine headings. The assessment confirmed the need to change and areas where the focus was required.

To engage Staff members we used the FAME self-evaluation questionnaire. The Directors explained the purpose of the short self-evaluation survey (FAME) to encourage every member of staff to participate and respond. Questionnaires were then issued and scores sent anonymously to the Human Resources Section.

All areas for improvement were assessed by a group of Managers using the following criteria:

• Impact (High/Medium/Low)

• Ease of Implementation (Easy/Neutral/Difficult)

• Leverage (Yes/No)

Key Issues to Address

The group of managers then held a meeting facilitated by Quality Scotland to review each Area for Improvement (AFI). After prioritising the AFIs – three themes emerged, which linked to the criterion parts of the FAME Model:

  • Connecting with Staff –development of a Staff Council
  • Connecting with All Stakeholders –development of a New Corporate Website
  • Connecting with Tenants – developing Mobile Working

The hard work by the Board Members and Staff over the past year has now paid off. Following its recent accreditation visit by Quality Scotland, and our Committed to Excellence award in March 2014, Fife Housing Association is delighted to report that the Scottish Housing Regulator has recognised the Association’s significant progress in the areas it identified for improvement and has consequently reduced regulatory engagement from High to Medium. Our Journey to Excellence has begun.

 

That Light-bulb Moment

So far the unexpected (self-assessment) journey has been more revealing than any regulatory engagement, creating opportunity for organisational advancement, team building, and an enhancement of individual professional self-esteem. The Commitment to Excellence Award from Quality Scotland has given us renewed confidence to take the next steps there and back again to Excellence.

The Benefits

  • · Staff Council established - Staff Morale is generally up
  • · Regulatory Engagement was downgraded by the SHR from HIGH to MEDIUM risk in 2014

Hints & Tips

Response rate from Staff to Self-Assessment (SA) questionnaire was lower than expected 59% (38 out of 64 Staff). To increase staff returns of SA questionnaires:

  1. Consider appropriate timing of under-taking SA – when the SA was issued, the organisation was going through a “bad patch” and morale was low – hence low returns from staff
  2. Undertake a facilitated workshop on completing the SA questionnaire as we did for the Board of Management
  3. The next facilitated self-assessment should have a mix of Staff and Board members – so that Board members (who scored organisation higher than staff) can understand the staff perspective
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