What can we learn from Ongo Homes?
Thursday 7th of December 2017
Our consultancy manager, Gill Mclaren talks about her experience of working with Ongo Homes through their accreditation process.
In June, Ongo Homes commissioned Tpas to reassess their accreditation. They achieved their first accreditation with Tpas back in 2010 and continue to work with us to enhance their engagement activities.
Ongo are exceptionally committed to enhancing their engagement activities and recongise the value and impact that only excellent resident engagement can bring. They asked Tpas to review their arrangements and offer advice and direction to their staff and tenants.
Kick starting the accrediation processs
Like with all our accredited clients, Ongo Homes followed our rigorous but rewarding process which lasts for several months. First we asked Ongo to fill out our self-assessment and provide us with evidence to prove that they do what they say they do.
We then visited their organisation and met with staff and tenants. We call this ‘reality checking’.
We then brought all our thoughts of improvements into an interim report. Ongo Homes welcomed this report, asked us questions, showed us some work that we hadn’t discussed during the reality checking and we moved onto our final report together.
The final report
Within our final report to Ongo we celebrated their culture and work as an organisation. It was clear as an impartial advisor working with Ongo that their tenants and residents rate them very highly in ensuring they had always been kept informed and involved. Tenants took the time to tell us and show us examples of how staff went the extra mile’.
Our recommendations to Ongo
Recommendations included suggesting exploring the use of Yammer as a sharing tool for their scrutiny group which saves on the costs of printing loads of documentation when they can be shared on line
There were also recommendations about the recruitment process for tenant board members including the use of tenant board members stories; to encourage more people to get involved at this level.
Ongo's best practice
Through this process we identified some excellent best practice from Ongo Homes too. For example ‘The Community Voice’ which now has delegated power from the Board for the scrutiny panel to report their reviews directly to the Community Voice for challenge and a summary report goes to Board for ratification. This ensures that tenants are at the heart of the organisation; being listened too; having real influence and the right frameworks in place to challenge.
There’s always something to learn from each of our accredited clients. Ongo Homes exceptional group ‘The Community Voice’ is a strategic tenant-led group that ensures the organisations approach to accountability and performance is underpinned by, and with, tenants. We can then take this best practice approach along with our next journey to assess and accredit a landlord.
Another area of excellence is Ongo’s embedded approach to Equality and Diversity – there is a ‘diversity working’ group made up of staff from across the organisation and tenants to ensure that this important area is embedded across the organisation and within the communities in which it works. Excellent outcomes from this have included campaigns on raising the profile of different parts of the community.
There two key documents that underpin engagement within Ongo Homes are excellent examples that others in the sector could and should learn from:-
The Customer engagement strategy clearly links engagement to the Business aims of the organisation; is jargon free and easy to read and vitally has comments in about benefits of involvement from both tenants and staff
The Customer Engagement handbook - Contains key descriptions of the different engagement models as well as identifying time commitment requirements and gives an understanding of what the role is and how it fits into the overall engagement framework.
From all of the observations and reality checking undertaken I was extremely impressed with staffs approaches to working with tenants in a really professional; partnership way. There was an openness and transparency not often seen within organisations about really wanting to work with; to listen to; and to really value tenants being involved and wanting to work in partnership within an overall improvement framework that is reaping the rewards.
It was a pleasure to work with Ongo Homes and I know they value our external validation of our their excellence and commitment to engagement.