Going the extra mile for tenants

Thu 01 Feb 2024

Donna offering help to a tenant

In the latest look at one of our teams, we turn the spotlight on our Intensive Housing Management (IHM) team to find out more about them and what they do. We spoke to Team Leader Donna:

As Donna arrives for our chat, she’s on the phone to a member of the team, helping her to resolve a tricky situation and giving them advice on what they should do.

As she ends the call, Donna says that that pretty much sums up the work of IHM, always going from one challenge to another.

With that situation resolved, she goes about telling us what their role is:
“We’re here to help tenants to sustain their tenancy and live happily and healthily in their homes.

“Sadly, we have many tenants who struggle to live independently and sometimes they need a little extra support, and that’s where we come in.

“Concern might come from colleagues who have visited them and it’s our job then to assess those concerns and, if needed, make contact to find out more and work with them to try and help them.

“This can be for all sorts of reasons, including vulnerability, domestic abuse, loneliness, hoarding, substance misuse or someone who is suffering from a mental illness. Often the tenant can be dealing with illness or maybe a bereavement and just needs a little helping hand to get back on track.

“Depending on circumstances, we’ll either make visits every week, fortnight or month. We’ll work with them to understand their problem and offer to help. It’s about motivating and encouraging the tenants to work with us to solve their problems and enable them to live independently. In some cases, more expert help is needed, and that’s when we refer them on to specialist organisations such as Crisis, Age Cymru or domestic abuse charities.

“Our aim is to turn those weekly visits into two-week ones, and the two-week visits into monthly ones, until we get to a point where they no longer need our support. Depending on each case, this can take a matter of weeks, but it may also take years.”

Donna explains that the tasks the teams might need to help with can vary enormously:
“If it’s the tenant’s first time living by themselves, we might need to help them set up payments for household bills, or, it might be encouraging them to stay on top of the household chores. In hoarding cases, it might be working with them to gradually reduce the amount of things they have in their homes.

“However, in every case, we are always looking for the root cause of the problem. If we don’t identify and solve that then we’re just going to keep finding ourselves back at square one.”

The IHM team is 16-strong and is made up of people with a variety of backgrounds including housing, care, anti-social behaviour and independent living and Donna is justifiably proud of the work they do:
“They really do go above and beyond to help our tenants. Building trust is vital if we’re going to help them. I had one of the team spending weeks sitting on a tenant’s doorstep, talking through the letterbox, before they felt confident enough to let them in and start helping.

“Sadly, we are seeing more and more tenants that need our help. We get around half a dozen new referrals every week and are currently helping around 350 tenants.”

With so many cases and the team dealing with challenging circumstances, Donna says supporting each other is vital:
“We have weekly team catch-ups where we talk about who we are supporting and share ideas and how to deal with things.

“I also have regular meetings with each team member, where they can talk openly to me about what they’re dealing with. You have to be a strong and resilient person to do this job, but that doesn’t mean that support isn’t there for them whenever they need it.

“What the team does has a direct impact on people’s lives and that’s quite a responsibility to carry. I’m very proud of the way they do that and how their actions can turn people’s lives around.”