Read summaries of the meetings held by our eight regional customer forums and find out about the topics discussed.
- Central & West Midlands forum – January 2016
In January members of the Central & West Midlands forum met with Anchor colleagues, including the Senior District Manager. Discussions included feedback on the recent changes to the operational structure and the introduction of Team Managers, the roll out of Wi-Fi at Anchor locations, and the new customer handbook, which customers had been involved in designing. The Customer Relations Manager gave an update on the Complaints and Compliments procedures, which is a special topic of this forum. Members discussed the complexities of tackling anti-social behaviour complaints. It was agreed that to enhance the complaints process, more complaints should be resolved locally, rather than by District Managers. Members volunteered to join a working party to consider how this could be achieved. Results of the annual satisfaction survey were reviewed. It was pleasing to see that there had been an increase in the number of responses received, as well as overall satisfaction. However satisfaction of leasehold customers continues to be lower than that of rented housing customers. The Head of Procurement and Purchasing gave an update on the repairs programme. He was accompanied by senior colleagues from the contractor - Ian Williams, who listened to members views and took away suggestions which will help drive customer satisfaction, including those specific to leasehold locations.
- Cumbria and North East Forum – February 2016
The Cumbria & North East forum meeting in Carlisle considered the implications of the recent flooding across the country. A small number of Anchor locations had been affected, but plans which had been put in place, to address any such incidents, had resulted in minimal adverse impact for customers at those locations. Members discussed Anchor’s voice and data programme with the Senior District Manager. It was agreed that the installation of upgraded technology was essential for the organisation as it meant that colleagues could work more efficiently, and the free Wi-Fi was of benefit to customers and their guests. Clarification about costings were sought and discussed. The Regional Property Development Manager attended to discuss the planned works programme. A senior member of the Customer Relations team updated members of recent changes to the complaints process which puts the focus more on resolution than timescales.
- Durham, Tees and North Yorkshire forum – February 2016
The Durham, Tees and North Yorkshire forum met in Middlesbrough. Members discussed the operational update with the District Manager, including customer satisfaction results, which have increased in the last year. Tne of Anchor’s Service Delivery Consultants gave an overview of events being planned across all Anchor locations to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday, including the national cycle tour by Anchor customer Terry Keen. The Customer Care Manager, from contractor Forrest, attended and gave an overview on the targets and standards their employees are expected to achieve. Feedback was sought from members and any ideas for further improvements. The Chair and Deputy Chair of this forum sit on the Legacy Panel, and they, along with the Customer Engagement Manager discussed the range of innovative ways in which the legacy fund is being used to enhance the lives of people living at Anchor locations. Members also gave feedback on Anchor’s Pet policy.
- East Midlands and Anglia forum – February 2016
The East Midlands and Anglia forum met in Peterborough in February. The forum had recently adopted Communications and Value for Money as their special topics. The Head of Communications and Publicity attended to consult with members on current methods of customer communication, including Anchor’s Living magazine. The increasing use of social media was discussed, including Facebook and twitter. Members were asked for their suggestions on future plans for customer communication. An operational update was given by the District Manager. The Regional Property Delivery Manager discussed the statistics from the latest customer satisfaction survey which showed that satisfaction with planned works is up to 94% nationally, and is showing 98% customer satisfaction in the East Midlands & Anglia region.
- London and South East forum – February 2016
The London & South East forum met at Anchor’s London office in February. Anchor’s Finance Business Partner met with members and asked for their views on how budget packs, including service charge information, is presented to customers. Members were given an update on recent government legislation changes in relation to housing, and also an overview of how Anchor manages income. The Director and the Customer Liaison officer from regional contractor Hawksmoor attended, along with Anchor’s regional Property Delivery Manager, to discuss Anchor’s asset management strategy, and how this translates to delivery by individual contractors. Feedback from members was very positive about current work being carried out by contractors. Anchor’s Chief Executive, Jane Ashcroft, attended the Yorkshire forum meeting in February. Jane discussed Anchor’s 5 year business plan with members and sought their views. The Regional Property Manager talked about the responsive repair programme. Recent changes to regional contractors were already showing a reduction in costs. Members advised that the instigation of fixed repair days did not seem to be working, as urgent repairs took priority, meaning that the allocated days do often not occur. It was agreed to review this process. Members had previously requested further information regarding leases on leasehold properties. Anchor’s Leasehold Consultant attended to give an overview and take questions.
- South West forum – February 2016
The South West forum met in Oxford. They have recently taken over ‘Policy’ as their special topic and were invited to discuss and give feedback on Anchor’s guest room, pets and car parking policies. Customer feedback had prompted a review of the guest room policy, which ensured a more uniform approach, and made information on guest rooms nationally more readily available. Members gave further feedback which will be considered as part of the review. During discussion of the pets’ policy, members asked for information to be included which is specific to guests bringing pets into Anchor locations, and also to highlight that pets are not allowed in communal areas. The car parking policy devolves detail to individual locations and it was agreed to consider including guidance about the parking of none roadworthy cars at Anchor locations, which is not allowed.
- North West forum – April 2016
The North West regional forum in Bootle was attended by the Head of IT, who talked to members about the advancements in the use of technology across Anchor, which in turn gave customers a better quality of service. Members were invited to visit the Bradford office in April, where they could see some of the technology in action. This included video conferencing facilities, which was reducing colleague travel time and driving down costs. At the same time, members are to visit the new Anchorcall office (their second area of specialism) and see the upgraded equipment and office layout. Two senior managers from Anchor’s regional contractors attended, and gave an update on how the contract is progressing. Members were able to give feedback on their experiences and to ask for feedback on quality control and key performance indicators.
- Central & West Midlands forum – May 2015
The Central & West Midlands forum met on 27 May 2015 at Henbury Court in Birmingham. Members discussed Anchor’s contract for electricity, and standards for the new contactors. A presentation was given on Welfare Benefits and Financial Inclusion with discussion on benefits available for people aged over 55.
Members received an update on customer engagement from the Customer Engagement Advisor, and discussed how location meetings provide customers with the opportunity to receive information and share their views. An update was given on e learning courses available for customers, for example the food hygiene certificate. Further discussion included Anchor’s Legacy Fund and how to become a volunteer.
An update was given on events happening across the country to recognise Care Home Open Day. All Anchor homes will have activities throughout the day and members would be welcome to attend.
- Cumbria and North East Forum – June 2015
The Cumbria and North East Forum held their meeting on Tuesday 16 June 2015 at Bewicke Lodge in North Tyneside.
The Development and Property Director attended and discussed plans for the next five years, which included plans to build and acquire more care homes and retirement housing. Accommodation for independent living, supplemented with care is seen as desirable by many older people. The substantial planned investment in existing care homes was discussed.
The forum also discussed methods of customer engagement with the Customer Engagement Advisor. They gave their views on the ‘involving you’ logo, which highlights where customers can get involved. Members also discussed Anchor Legacy fund, giving their views to further enhance the application process.
- Durham, Tees and North Yorkshire forum – June 2015
The Durham, Tees and North Yorkshire forum meeting took place on 9 June 2015 at Beamish Court in Durham. The Operations Director attended and gave an update including an overview of the changes to the structure for District Managers, with the introduction of the new Team Manager position.
This forum has the Legacy fund as a special topic, and was consulted for their views linked to a review of the process for submissions for accessing the fund. The Chair and Deputy Chair of the forum sit on the Legacy Panel and gave an update of the latest panel meeting.
A member of the policy team attended to give an overview of Anchor’s car parking policy and to hear feedback from customers at the meeting.
- East Midlands and Anglia forum – June 2015
The East Midlands and Anglia forum meeting took place on 3 June at Anchor Court in Peterborough.
Members discussed the provision of hearing loop systems in communal areas to aid participation in meetings.
The Regional Operations Director gave an update and outlined Anchor’s business and investment plans for the next five years. Members’ views were sought on their experiences of planned works, which will be used to help inform what we do in future. Discussion took place around streamlining the number of contractors, to improve value for money and quality.
The forum had a presentation from Anchor’s Welfare Benefits and Financial Inclusion Manager, and received an update on the new legislation around welfare reforms. There was also a discussion relating to anti-social behaviour and how noise issues can be addressed.
- London and South East forum – June 2015
The London and South East forum met on 17 June in London.
Members discussed the provision of Anchor guest rooms and suggested that it would be useful to have a directory of locations.
A presentation was given by the manager of the Anchorcall service and members’ views were sought on the introduction of an emergency assistance card which would be useful for people who may get lost, for example those living with dementia. Members also considered the cost of the Anchorcall service, against other providers, and deemed it to provide good value for money.
Members of the customer engagement team attended to discuss a range of topics relating to customer involvement. They sought members’ views on how to enhance activity provision in housing locations, and gave an overview of how Anchor’s volunteer programme can help support activity. Discussion also included the provision of iPads in Anchor’s care homes, and opportunities for customers to take part in e-Learning, for example by completing a food hygiene course, which in turn could help support activities, including lunch clubs, at Anchor locations.
- South West forum – June 2015
The South West forum meeting took place on 4 June at St Clements Court in Weston-Super-Mare.
Members had recently held a meeting specifically to discuss the scooter policy and to give their feedback, which will help inform the review of the policy.
Members shared ideas and experiences of setting up Residents Associations', and highlighted the benefits for customers of setting one up. They agreed to discuss this in more detail at their next meeting.
The Regional Planned Programme Manager attended and discussed a wide range of topics including responsibilities highlighted in leases for leasehold properties, insurance, replacement of internal fixtures and fittings and an overview of the planned works programme.
Members gave feedback on the new Team Manager roles which will soon be introduced.
They received a brief overview of customer engagement activities, including the legacy fund and the kind of projects that have been funded through legacy monies.
- Yorkshire forum – June 2015
The Yorkshire forum met on 9 June 2015 at Guardian Court in York. Members had an open Q&A session with the Regional Operations Director and discussed a wide range of topics including the roll out of Wi-Fi, the new Team Manager role, and some proposed changes to the way service charge items are applied to service charges, to keep these more up to date.
They had a discussion with the Customer Engagement Manager about the many ways in which customers can currently get involved. Yorkshire forum members are also members of many of these groups including the Customer Services Committee, the customer panel, the complaints panel and the leasehold customer group. There was also a member of the scrutiny panel in attendance as a visitor.
Members were given an update on the new contactors for planned works and responsive repairs, and had a presentation from Forrest, one of the new contractors, who advised members of what customers can expect from this new contract.
At Anchor we believe listening to feedback and involving our customers in decision making helps us to continually improve the quality of our services. Find out more about the range of ways our customers can get involved in the governance of the organisation on our Customer influence page here.