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Posted on: Thu 9th March 2017 17:04

East Thames has welcomed the Budget announcement of an extra £2 billion in social care funding over three years, but warned the government against ‘kicking the social care crisis down the road’.

East Thames has 15,000 homes in London and Essex, and also provides support and housing to nearly 1,000 vulnerable adults across 135 schemes.

Despite its size and experience, local authority funding cuts have meant East Thames has had to hand back some supported housing contracts.

Yvonne Arrowsmith, chief executive of East Thames, part of the L&Q Group, said: ‘We welcome the increased investment in social care and look forward to contributing to the proposals for long-term social funding.

‘The commitment to a Green Paper of ideas is fine, but what is urgently needed is action. The social care crisis is here and now – we see the devastating effects on vulnerable people of underfunded care day in, day out.

‘In order to provide the best-quality service, we are committed to paying our staff a living wage – we pay the London Living Wage in the capital. However, this is becoming more difficult.

‘As a result we have had to hand back some contracts, as the funding is simply not at the level needed to provide the quality of service required.’

Yvonne added: ‘Properly funded social care will enable providers like East Thames to provide the support needed to help vulnerable adults maintain their independence. This in turn reduces the burden on other public services, most notably the NHS.

‘The planned approach to cap housing benefit for supported housing services will restrict our ability to provide these essential services to the people who need them most. This issue must be included in the scope of the social care Green Paper.

‘We pledge to work with the government to quickly move to a sustainable, effective social care model. But we will keep up the pressure for continued action – the government can’t simply kick the social care crisis down the road.’

 

Posted on: Mon 6th March 2017 11:35

It is no secret that government plans to introduce a cap on supported housing funding risk costing housing providers millions of pounds and will jeopardise existing and future schemes.
 
At East Thames our research shows the proposed cap would leave an annual funding shortfall of just under £1m across our 135 supported housing schemes in London and the South East.
 
Along with a host of other supported housing providers, we made the scale of the potential impact abundantly clear in our responses to a recent government consultation on the issue.
 
While the aggregate impact of the proposed changes to the current system is very important, for me, however, it is at the level of the individual when what is at stake here really hits home.
 

Personal price

Vera is one of our residents in an extra care scheme in Waltham Forest. She is 89 years old, suffers with dementia and relies on the support our skilled staff are able to provide in order to live a relatively independent life. At present Vera is supported through housing benefit to pay her rent and service charges.
 
Under the government’s plans, Vera will face a weekly shortfall of £51.70 in housing benefit.
 
Although the government is proposing to introduce a localised top-up payment, which in theory should cover the shortfall, it will come with additional administrative costs and cannot be guaranteed long-term.
 
As a result, there is a real risk that Vera could quickly run up arrears totalling thousands of pounds, unless something gives. Ultimately this could lead to people like Vera having to move and it’s likely that this would be a move into residential care at a much greater cost to the tax payer, and more importantly to Vera’s independence. This makes no sense to anyone.
 

Business cost

In some instances, we will be able to absorb income losses.
 
But only in a very few. We are not in business to make large profits and run a very tight ship, accordingly.
 
The likely impact of the proposed government supported housing cap is a much-reduced service and will bring new developments aimed at supporting people in Vera’s situation to a halt.
 
This clearly is not a desirable outcome for anyone – not us, not the tax payer and certainly not for Vera and the thousands of people like her who are supported  by housing providers across the country.
 

Action plan

Last year, East Thames merged with L&Q and from April this year we’re creating L&Q Living, a brand new care and support subsidiary providing homes and support to more than 6,600 older and vulnerable adults across London and the South East.
 
Our aim is to grow the service, extending our support to even more people like Vera. To do this we need sustainable and reliable funding, but we know we also need to offer the tax payer value for money.
 
We feel there is an alternative approach that would allow the government and housing providers to find a path that can be followed by both parties.
 
Under our approach, housing providers would remain able to deliver effective services, and the tax payer would receive greater value for money and have greater transparency over costs to ensure this continued to be the case.
 

A cap that fits

The first point to make is that a cap based on the local private rented sector is not suitable for supported housing, where costs for housing vulnerable and older people are much higher.
 
A cap specifically for supported housing would ensure funding better meets the needs of supported housing residents and would offer the taxpayer better value for money.
 
In our view this can best be achieved in one of two ways:
 
  • One nationally set cap that reflects the higher costs of providing supported housing, such as increased management and maintenance, with bolt on elements for costs such as furniture, communal areas and security measures.
  • Three nationally set caps that reflect the varying costs of different types of supported housing: low level support (e.g. sheltered schemes), medium level support (e.g. supported living schemes), and high level support (e.g. Extra Care schemes or housing for those with complex needs)
Both approaches retain the security of housing benefit as they continue to be demand-led and to expand to meet actual need rather than being part of a fixed top-up pot.
 
By removing the need for two streams (housing benefit/universal credit plus the top up payments) they also reduce the administrative burden and make the process simpler to understand, helping residents retain their peace of mind.
 
The advantage of a nationally set cap with a bolt on system is that this enables us to provide a tailored service that meets the specific needs of our client groups.
 
This is particularly important for more innovative schemes which house residents with multiple needs, such as Beverly Lewis House, our scheme for women with learning disabilities who are fleeing abuse.
 
It also provides greater transparency to the tax payer, with costs clearly linked to the housing services provided at each scheme. The bolt-ons would be calculated as either a percentage rental increase or a fixed amount for a specific feature, such communal spaces, security etc.
 
A three-cap system has similar benefits. It enables us to continue to serve high-need residents while ensuring that lower-need accommodation is also cost-efficient.
 
Both approaches provide greater transparency, enable us to retain funding levels, and deliver savings on administrative costs compared with current proposals.
 
Importantly, however, it would ensure East Thames and the hundreds of other committed housing providers like us, are able to continue providing essential housing support services.
 
Vera and thousands like her hope our plea is heard.
 
 
First published in Social Housing Magazine on Friday 24 February 2017.
Posted on: Fri 24th February 2017 11:12

We are delighted to announce that East Thames has beaten the competition to take home the top prize in the not for profit and charity category of the inaugural UK Complaint Handling Awards.

After being shortlisted to the final four, East Thames took on Macmillan Cancer Support, ASRA Housing Group and Cirrus at an event in central London on Thursday 23 February. Each organisation delivered a presentation that demonstrated the way that they deal with complaints and the winner was selected by a panel of expert judges from both the public and private sectors.

Our entry described the cultural transformation of East Thames and how this has enabled us to makes changes to the way that we deal with complaints, which have improved both the customer journey and experience.. Our new approach took the focus away from timescales to respond and placed it firmly on resolution agreed with the customer. The changes implemented came from a joint approach between East Thames front line staff and our Housing Scrutiny Panel.  To ensure we delivered something that met our customers’ needs, we surveyed our residents to and incorporated their recommendations into our new way of working.

East Thames worked in partnership with Accelerator training solutions to deliver a comprehensive staff development package accredited by the Institute of Customer Services. Through this partnership 322 East Thames staff have completed customer service training and personally delivered customer service improvements plans.  We also developed a ‘Licenced to Resolve’ training programme to support nominated complaints champions throughout the business.  This training is now available to all East Thames staff.  Since the implementation of the new way of working, customer satisfaction with complaint handling at East Thames has improved significantly and now ranks amongst the best in the public sector. East Thames continues to review the service and is seeing an improvement in customer satisfaction every month.

Avis Rhodes, head of customer services for East Thames said “Customers are at the heart of everything we do and we are thrilled to have our work recognised through the UK Complaints Handling Awards. We’ve invested a lot of time and resource into creating a service that we can be proud of, that benefits both our customers and our staff.”

Posted on: Thu 16th February 2017 11:42

Government plans to introduce a cap on supported housing funding risk costing housing providers millions of pounds and jeopardise existing and future schemes.

East Thames, part of the L&Q Group, has proposed an alternative approach of capping government spending on supported housing that would control costs and allow tenants to pay their rent and service charges.

Yvonne Arrowsmith, chief executive of East Thames, said: ‘We understand the need for the government to ensure value of money in supported housing services. However, the present planned changes will lead to a rental shortfall of almost £1 million a year for us.

‘There is a proposed localised top-up payment which in theory should cover the shortfall, however, it will come with additional administrative costs and cannot be guaranteed long-term.

‘As a result, the current plans to cap supported housing rents at local housing allowance levels places the funding of existing services and the delivery of future schemes at risk.’

In its response to a government consultation, East Thames research shows the proposed cap would leave an annual funding shortfall of £970,000 across 135 supported housing schemes in London and the South East.

The average shortfall would be £48.19 per person per week, but rising to £73 a week for those with learning disabilities.

East Thames has set out two alternative plans to the proposed dual funding approach:

  • One nationally set cap that reflects the higher costs of providing supported housing, such as increased management and maintenance, with bolt on elements for costs such as furniture, communal areas and security measures. 
  • Three nationally set caps that reflect the varying costs of different types of supported housing: low level support (e.g. sheltered schemes), medium level support (e.g. supported living schemes), and high level support (e.g. Extra Care schemes or housing for those with complex needs)

Yvonne said: ‘In our view a nationally set supported housing benefit entitlement with higher caps is the best way to make supported housing work for tenants, commissioners, providers and developers.

‘Crucially this would deliver greater value for money, while ensuring the continued stability of essential housing services relied on by millions of vulnerable people.’

In April, East Thames and L&Q will launch L&Q Living – a dedicated care and support subsidiary, providing supported housing to help more than 6,600 older and vulnerable adults live independently across London and the South East.

Yvonne said: ‘We are committed to working with vulnerable people and improving their independence wherever possible. We hope to expand our service and meet the needs of growing numbers of older and vulnerable people in the UK. But we can only do this with sustainable and reliable funding for existing and future services.’

Posted on: Tue 14th February 2017 12:23

East Thames and L&Q have been shortlisted for an impressive six First Time Buyer Reader's awards at a ceremony at Speaker’s House on Thursday 9 February. The housing associations, which merged in December, have been recognised in categories which celebrate their extensive contributions to development and regeneration in East London.

As well as improving outdated housing stock, the organisations have been applauded for their work transforming disused commercial space into affordable homes. East Thames’ Foundry Mews, shortlisted for Best Small Development, offers 21 affordable homes on a previously disused garage site. L&Q’s Whitechapel Central is shortlisted for Best Urban Regeneration Project, and will see a former Safestore facility transformed into a 564 home development with shops, a gym and public spaces.

Speaking of the awards, East Thames chief executive Yvonne Arrowsmith said, “It’s fantastic to be recognised by the First Time Buyers awards for another year. We take great pride in supplying good quality housing to people getting their first step on the housing ladder. As a merged organisation, we have the resource to continue helping people from all walks of life live in a quality home that they can afford”

East Thames has been shortlisted for:

L&Q has been shortlisted for:


You can vote for East Thames and L&Q here. Voting closes on Monday 10 April, and the results will be announced at an awards ceremony on Friday 21 April.  

Posted on: Wed 8th February 2017 13:28

 

We’re pleased to announce that East Thames has been shortlisted for its outstanding approach to digital inclusion in the UK Housing Awards.

Organised by Inside Housing in association with the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH), The UK Housing Awards are widely recognised as the leading awards in the sector and serve to highlight the organisations, individuals and projects that are leading the way in affordable housing.

Last year East Thames was highly commended for its sales and marketing approach in the 'Best Marketing Campaign' category and was shortlisted for the Best Small Development category for Mayfield in Waltham Forest. 

East Thames has been nominated for its work with Alcove to provide older residents with on assistive technology devices . Not only has the introduction of this technology reduced the cost of the service for local authority partners,  but has also helped our older residents maintain their independence and stay in their homes longer. 

The technology works by installing small, discreet sensor devices in the home, which allows for care workers and family members to receive alerts on their phones if something out of the ordinary occurs. The sensors can be used to:

  • Check if people are taking their medication.
  • Ensure people are eating and drinking enough.
  • Send help quickly if people fall. 
  • Ensure rooms are not too cold or hot.
  • Monitor staff attendance and support.

Other devices include lights that switch on automatically to prevent people from falling and devices that automatically switch off on a timer to prevent fires. 

As part of the initiative, residents have been given new smart watches, meaning they can call for help at the press of a button. The smart watches send medication and other reminders. Tablets have also been provided,, featuring photograph icons of family members, so that residents can easily make contact with loved ones. . 

Since introducing this technology, we have:

  • prevented a number of serious injuries for many of our older residents 
  • passed significant savings on to our local authority partners
  • upskilled staff to use digital tools 
Posted on: Thu 2nd February 2017 17:02

On Friday 27 January, Newham, Barking and Dagenham employers came together to offer opportunities to local residents, at a Jobs and homes show hosted by East Thames housing association.  

The event which was organised in partnership with Jobcentre plus, aimed to help local residents, who may be affected by  the roll out of Universal Credit, to make the move into work.

The attendees were able to speak to a range of local employers, including the NHS, Hotel care, Mitie and KFC, some of which had vacancies available on the day.  Local services were on hand to offer advice, such as Newham Workplace – Newham’s employment and advice service, Jobcentre Plus, Newham Moneyworks – the council’s money advice service and East Thames’ own housing team.

The borough relationships manager for Jobcentre plus, said “Employment and housing are not separate issues, one significantly impacts the other, so holding an event that helps with both housing and employment seemed like an ideal setup”.

Jonas Kattah attended the event after being referred by Winsor Park Employment Hub, East Thames’ employment service in Beckton. He said; “It’s been a good event, lots of stalls and people to talk to about career opportunities. I’ve found a few companies I’m really interested in and have information on them now. I’m very happy and excited for what could come of today. I’m really glad I came! ”

John Bryson, Employment and Enterprise Manager for East Thames, said ‘It is our aim to help as many of our residents to secure suitable employment as possible.  Through events like this we gain closer relationships with local employers, make the link between our unemployed residents and prospective employers, and raise awareness amongst local employers of the potential pool of talent living in our homes’.

East Thames offers employment and enterprise support to any residents in the boroughs in which they work. If you need support with job applications, your CV, starting a business or interview skills contact East Thames on ete@east-thames.co.uk, 0208 522 2221 or visit www.east-thames.co.uk/ete .

For information on jobcentre plus events and support visit: Stratford.Customerservice@Dwp.Gsi.Gov.Uk

Posted on: Thu 19th January 2017 17:46

If you’ve received services from East Thames recently you may have received a text message afterwards asking you to rate our performance.

We’re working hard to improve our services to you, and we’d love to hear what your thoughts are, good or bad. By telling us what you really think, you’ll be at the heart of any service improvements we make.

Our text message surveys are quick and secure, and if you raise an issue as a result of the survey we’ll call you back within two working days to find out more and let you know what we’re doing to fix it.

If you receive a text message survey from us, please do take a few minutes to reply.

If you’ve got any questions about how we use this information please email customerservices@east-thames.co.uk

Posted on: Tue 17th January 2017 13:47

Residents from three leading housing associations struck up a song at the Theatre Royal Stratford East on Sunday 15 January as their community choir project was brought to an uplifting finale.

Fifteen residents from Genesis, East Thames and L&Q performed songs including Jackie Wilson’s “Higher and Higher” and a new composition following three months of taster sessions and rehearsals led by soul singer Byron Gold.  Their performance as House Harmony was part of a sell-out evening concert of the Stratford East Singers, a renowned local singing group which Byron leads.

The community choir project set out to give residents of all backgrounds and ages the chance to meet new people and enjoy participating in the arts.  It was funded by the Genesis Community Foundation, the housing association’s grant-giving arm which supports projects across its area of operation.

The Stratford East Singers are a singing group that formed in 2011.  In September 2015 they made it to the final of the BBC 2 series “The Naked Choir”, presented by choirmaster Gareth Malone.

Debbie, an East Thames resident who took part in the choir said "it was a fantastic opportunity.  I really, really enjoyed it.  I’ve gained confidence and new friends."

Lauren Picton, Volunteer Programme Manager at Genesis, said: House Harmony’s performance was amazing and exceeded expectations.  All of the choir members put so much hard work in and they should be really proud of what they have achieved in a short space of time.  Projects like this one are fantastic at bringing communities together to have fun while building confidence and new skills.”

Deborah Lamb, Resident Involvement Manager, commenting on behalf of the newly merged L&Q and East Thames organisations, said: “Byron and the Stratford East Singers have done a fantastic job coaching our residents who really impressed everyone with their polished final performance. Well done to everyone who took part and contributed to this celebration of our diverse local community.”

Posted on: Fri 23rd December 2016 13:20
 
On Tuesday 13 December Maple Court, one of our Sheltered Housing Schemes, held a Christmas party to remember.  
 
The event involved residents from other schemes and people from the local community, It was held not only to celebrate the festive month of December but to connect local residents in order to reduce loneliness and prevent isolation.
 
The event was organised in partnership with Maple Court - an East Thames Sheltered Housing Scheme, Newham’s Adult Social Care service and Beckton & Royal Docks Community Neighbourhood.  
 
Christmas time can be a lonely time for those without close friends and family, so with the aid of Newham council's  Lets Get The Party Started grant and donations from residents and local restaurants, Maple Court were able to put on a party with food, drink, decorations and even an Elvis impersonator!
 
Information on local activities and events were also available and a raffle encouraged residents to mingle. The event raised a lot of smiles and many residents danced the day away to their favourite Elvis classics. The impersonator was such a hit that residents have requested him for future events.
 
Margaret, one of the residents attending the event, said “It’s lovely to have a gathering like this and meet new people. Events like this don’t happen every day, it’s been really enjoyable”.
 
Charlie Culshaw, Director of Care and support, was thrilled with the event saying “It’s great to see our residents having fun and celebrating the Christmas period together  it can often be a lonely time for residents but event’s such as these really create a festive buss throughout the schemes and encourage residents to socialise more”.
 
Events such as these are key in creating an enjoyable environment for our residents and help maintain their wellbeing. Find out more about our care and support services here.
 
Posted on: Wed 21st December 2016 14:55

Call us to report a repair over the Christmas period:

 

Day

Service

Friday 23 December

Normal service 8am - 5pm

Christmas Eve

Emergencies only

Christmas Day

Emergencies only

Boxing Day

Emergencies only

Tuesday 27 December

Emergencies only

Wednesday 28 December

Normal Service

Thursday 29 December

Normal Service

Friday 30 December

Normal Service

New Year's Eve

Emergencies only

New Year's Day

Emergencies only

Monday 2 January

Emergencies only

Tuesday 3 January

Service resumes as normal

Between the 24th and 2nd we will only be undertaking emergency repairs, but you will be able to report any repairs on the days we are operating normal opening hours. Day-to-day repairs will be completed when the festive period is over. If you have an emergency repair you can always call us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on 0300 303 7333 and select option 1. You can read more about our repairs service here

 

Contact us about anything else in your home:

 

Day

Service

Friday 23 December

8am – 3pm

Christmas Eve

Closed

Christmas Day

Closed

Boxing Day

Closed

Tuesday 27 December

Closed

Wednesday 28 December

8am - 5pm

Thursday 29 December

8am - 5pm

Friday 30 December

8am - 3pm

New Year's Eve

Closed

New Year's Day

Closed

Monday 2 January

Closed

Tuesday 3 January

Service resumes as normal

You can find all of our contact information here

Posted on: Mon 19th December 2016 15:53

                                         

Job seeker, Urszula Boudib received an early Christmas present this year, when she was recognised for her hard work by completing our Introduction to Healthcare programme and going on to secure a Healthcare Assistant role with Royal London Hospital.

In November, Urszula was awarded her qualification at the NHS Awards ceremony at the Stratford Town Hall, along with three other East Thames candidates who have completed the same programme through the Winsor Park Employment Hub.

In 2015, Urszula was doing care work for agencies but always dreamed of working for the NHS. One day, when she was reading Street by Street, our resident magazine, she spotted an opportunity to take an Introduction to Healthcare course, which is run in partnership with East Thames and the Bart’s Health NHS Trust, to recruit admin and healthcare workers for East-end hospitals. She contacted the East Thames’ employment team at Winsor Park Employment Hub and asked how she could apply for the course.  Our Winsor Park employment team encouraged and supported Urszula to apply and take the course. She completed the course in 2015.

The training offers essential employability skills such as how to write a job application, interviewing for jobs, and a general understanding of NHS values, policy & procedure. After completing her course, Urszula went on to apply for jobs with the support of our employment team. After some persistence, Urszula landed a healthcare assistant role at Royal London Hospital. Our employment team provided letters of recommendation and helped her with references. Urszula started her job in October 2016 and is really enjoying her role.

Three other participants, Dinshu Joy Sashi, Christopher Perido, and Anila Muralilal, were also recognised for their success and hard work in completing our healthcare course at the NHS Awards ceremony at Stratford Town Hall.  

Urszula said ‘I received a huge level of support from a magnificent and expert team - Andrea, John and Shakir. They have been ready to help me at any time during the training and much longer after I completed the course. Their professional knowledge helped me feel confident in my interview.  I would like to say thank you to them for everything, how they helped, supported and encouraged me in every step of my way to get into employment in the NHS’.

John Woods, Job Broker, and Andrea Isip, Project Officer, at Winsor Park employment hub have supported Urszula and 114 others through this course over the last two years. They have said; ‘Like many of our residents Urszula faced barriers to getting the role she wanted, but with our help she was able to overcome them. Our services can often provide the missing link and match the right people to the right roles.”

If you would also like to take part in one of our courses or register for employment, please email John Woods at John.woods@east-thames.co.uk or call the hub on 0207 511 5946