The week before Christmas 2013, Niamh and I were given the opportunity to attend a Christmas lunch at the Ashram Cultural Centre at Dudhope Park, Dundee. The Bharatiya Ashram Centre holds events and activities for anyone who wishes to attend, although it is primarily focused towards ethnic minority groups in Dundee, with key aims of education for all, health and wellbeing, and drama and art. A wide range of activities take place Tuesdays – Sundays including Chi Jung, dancing, art classes and English speaking. Niamh and I were able to interact with the local clients and share stories, while receiving a delicious festive lunch. We were also invited to a party at the end of the lunch in which we got to dance with many of the clients which was fun!
At the Beat the Clock event, and through phone calls to Healthy Homes, individuals, that our team spoke with, had concerns of being cold during the winter months. Some older people either had broken or faulty boilers or radiators, therefore unable to heat their homes. Another issue was concern regarding the high cost of fuel bills and how to pay them.
My task, therefore, was to research into what Healthy Homes could do to help these people. I wanted to find out about the various Government schemes and how the elderly could find out about this help, as many of our customers do not have access to the internet or may not know about their entitlements. One of my first initial findings was the Warm Home Discount scheme and the Winter Fuel Payment benefit. Depending on the financial situation and meeting of certain criteria, such as those on pension credit, there may be a possibility of a fuel debt being reduced or written off. As the aim of Healthy Homes is to help older people to remain safe and well at home establishing fuel benefits is an important factor.
There is a replacement boiler scheme available to those on pension credits. For those not on pension credits replacement boilers or repairs will incur a cost. One way forward is to make sure that older people get an up to date financial review to ensure that they are getting all their entitlements. While this is not the scope of Healthy Homes, DEEAP and CAB are just two of the partner agencies that have been working together to make sure that this happens.
While I was working on the energy issues and because of my interest in social inequalities, Alice suggested meeting with Ian Treanor, Senior Energy Advisor for DEEAP at Dundee House. This not only gave me the chance to ask him specific questions about energy efficiency and fuel poverty, it also provided further insight into how his team helps the elderly through making sure they get their winter fuel allowance.
Beat the Clock is an established energy community campaign aimed at keeping people warm and well during the winter. It is run by Dundee Energy Efficiency Advice Project, DEEAP. Beat the Clock campaign provided Healthy Homes with a great opportunity to not only raise awareness of the project, but also to talk to the public and find out what the key issues were that many individual’s were experiencing in their homes at that particular time. Alongside Healthy Homes were the Community Safety team, providing merchandise and information on how to stay safe in your neighbourhood.
My name is Stacey Dall and I am in my final year of criminology and sociology studies at Abertay University. In September 2013 one of my tutors offered me with a fantastic opportunity to assist Alice and Niamh here at Healthy Homes, which I immediately accepted!
I have been part of the team since October 2013 helping with research into the well-being of the elderly’s homes, creating databases of local traders in the Coldside area of Dundee, researching grants available to the elderly, and foremost, I have been delving deep into the complex topic of energy providers. I have also attended many outings and events to raise the profile of Healthy Homes, such as ‘Beat the Clock’ held in the Wellgate in December 2013, a Christmas dinner I attended with Niamh, held at the Ashram Cultural Centre, and I also enjoyed taking part in the Bingo afternoon in January 2014 held here at Age Concern, Fiveways.
I am thoroughly enjoying my placement with Healthy Homes and I have learned and accomplished many tasks in such a short period of time. Alice and Niamh are also a pleasure to work with, and I could not have achieved what I have without them, and they are so much fun to work with – bonus!
The team are extremely pleased to say that the work done to date for Healthy Homes Project has resulted in the project being rolled out for a second phase! Congratulations to Alice Burns and Lara Moir for securing the next phase and thanks to all who contributed and those whom we here at Miscits have had the good fortune to work alongside.
Stay tuned for phase two – it’s sure to be exciting!
This phase of the project has seen us pick apart the information we have gleaned throughout our involvement with the Healthy Homes project to date; from people we’ve chatted to at any events or activities as well as insights and input from our workshop participants. We have been pattern finding in this information and comparing and contrasting perceptions, expectations, engagement levels, experiences, quality and satisfaction in relation to Care and Repair service provision in both Coldside and wider Dundee.
We mapped these patterns and split them into themes – Insights, Issues, Ideas and Services. Interestingly, as you can see below, our service users (below right) were not able to identify as many services as our providers, confirming our concerns about awareness, understanding of eligibility and trust.
So, with all of this learning, we had the bones of a new service requirement – our favourite analogy being that it was now just a case of putting all of the pieces of the puzzle together.
Key to both users and service providers for future success were:
- Clear points of contact and information – who can I talk to, how do I reach them and what information can they give me?
- A community orientated service – something that is both fixed within the local area and mobile.
- A service where the user is valued – feedback and user input is easy to give and is seen to be taken on board.
- Services are tailored to suit individuals’ needs and abilities.
- Linked people or agencies – for information to be shared appropriately between organisations and service providers. Services support other services.
- Peer to Peer support, the voluntary services and time banking to come to the forefront allowing communities to function sustainably by and for themselves when they can.
- A simpler referral protocol to be embedded within independent agencies’ practice.
See the document below for a summary of points of action in an ideal customer journey as outlined and directed by workshop participants.
Ultimately what we discovered was that key to this service is not simply the practical repair stuff, but community links, networking, meeting people, pride and ownership. As one participant stated, ‘We want to promote independence not dependence’ – it’s not just about what services can do for you but what you can do for yourself and for your community. Awareness and advertising will also be integral in the next stage of the service model development – if users and by extension, their families, friends and neighbours, don’t know about any of it, they won’t use it.
We met with Alice Burns to discuss our first iterations
An early suggestion in the project was for that of a brokerage system and so we considered how this might factor in to our findings from users and participants. A brokerage is required to filter, tailor, link and disseminate the correct service information. The role of existing services was discussed at length throughout the Healthy Homes project workshops; could social services act as brokerage between services required; could the referral protocol and service links as made by the Fire Service in home fire safety checks be emulated by other door to door agencies; could voluntary services be utilised to foster trust and understanding on a less formal community based level? But, all considered, these, though fantastic services, do not solely have the capacity to answer all users’ needs. Can great, and in some cases, untapped, local resources be linked up with services such as this to form a new, exciting and engaging service?
Watch this space…