Housing and Communities Overview & Scrutiny Committee

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1 AGENDA ITEM: 7 SUMMARY Report for: Date of meeting: 14 th September 2011 PART: 1 Housing and Communities Overview & Scrutiny Committee If Part II, reason: Sensitive commercial questions Title of report: Contact: Purpose of report: Recommendations Corporate objectives: Implications: Value For Money Implications Risk Implications Equalities Implications Community alarm call response performance Margaret Griffiths, Portfolio Holder for Housing Landlord Responsible Officer Andy Vincent, Group Manager, Tenant and Leaseholders Author Oliver Jackson, Lead Officer Supported Housing The purpose of this report is to provide a comprehensive review of the community alarm response and monitoring, out of hours emergency repair currently provided by Seniorlink Eldercare, and to provide recommendations as to the future of the service. Support the recommendation being put forward to Portfolio Holder to extend the community alarm element of the contract for a further 2 years and re-tender the out of hours repairs call handling. This reports supports the following Council objectives: Affordable housing Dacorum delivers Financial None Effective Contract Monitoring is essential in delivering Value for Money within the HRA Risk reference 05 in the Housing Landlord Risk Register refers to effective financial and operational control of contractors. Equality Impact Assessment - None required for the purpose of this report

2 Health & Safety Implications Consultees: Background papers: None Cllr Griffiths Portfolio Holder Housing Landlord Tenants and Leaseholders Committee Director Housing Landlord Assistant Director Housing Landlord Group Manager Housing Landlord Seniorlink Eldercare PH/050/09 - Part 2 Decision - Appointment of a Contractor to provide a Community Alarm Monitoring Service and Call Answering Service to Residents in Sheltered Schemes and Dispersed Sheltered Accommodation, Out of Hours Emergency Homelessness and Emergency Repairs Call-Out Services 1.0 Background 1.1 The community alarm monitoring service was tendered in 2009 following the end of the existing contract with the then provider, Tunstall Response. A new provider was selected and the contract awarded to Seniorlink Eldercare in January 2010, a private sector company who specialise in the field. The contract also includes call handling for out of hours repairs requests. The initial contractual period is for two years; terms within the contract allow an extension for a further three years. 1.2 The Community Alarm Monitoring Service is automatically provided to all Sheltered Housing tenants and is available for a small charge to older and/or disabled people who live within the Borough. The purpose of the service is to give residents security and reassurance that they can obtain help if they have an accident or medical emergency. 1.3 Community alarm monitoring service providers, including Seniorlink Eldercare, are members of the Telecare Services Association (TSA), which is the representative body for the telecare and telehealth industry within the UK. The TSA aims to promote and support the telecare industry and has over 350 members, primarily from Local Authorities, Registered Social Landlords and private sector suppliers. The organisation sets quality standard for service delivery in its code of practice to enable commissioners to identify quality providers. The TSA audit their members on an annual basis to ensure they comply with the TSA code of practice. 1.4 Community Alarm Service: Seniorlink Eldercare provide a response and monitoring service to Dacorum Borough Council owned sheltered housing properties, Lifelines within Dacorum Borough Council general needs properties and Lifelines within privately rented and owned properties throughout the borough. This equates to just over 3,700 customers in total. Page 2

3 Due to the expiry of the previous contract the service was retendered in Following completion of the tender process it was recommended that the contract be awarded to Seniorlink Eldercare in January The evaluation criteria that the tenders were marked on were as follows: Quality 45%: - Response to tender - Experience of working in community alarm - Method statement regarding partnership working - Evidence to interfere with Orchard - Experience and ability to collate performance reports Policies 10%: - Evidence of service standards - Evidence of complaints procedure - Evidence of equality and diversity policy - Evidence of health and safety policy - Evidence of data protection registration certificate Price 45%: - Standard equipment per unit - Community alarm monitoring for telecare clients per unit - Out of Hours call handling for emergency repairs - Out of Hours call handling for homelessness service - Other (Lone worker etc) 2.0 Performance Indicators: 2.1 There are two Performance Indicators that have been established to judge the performance of community alarm response and monitoring services and the speed in which they answer calls. The TSA standards are: % of calls answered within 60 seconds 2. 99% of calls answered within 180 seconds 2.2 In May 2011 the TSA issued the following guidance with regard to key performance indicators relating to the 60 seconds call handling target: After extensive deliberations following the KPI focus group meeting in February and further discussions with members at member forums and on a one-to-one basis, the following series of measures and support to our members relating to this call handling KPI were announced yesterday at the Annual General Meeting: A Service Provider achieving 97.5% of calls answering time not to exceed 60 seconds - will be considered compliant with the TSA Telecare Code of Page 3

4 Practice - this policy will be reviewed after one year following engagement with Members. 2.3 Current performance Annex 1 shows performance since January 2011 against both targets. The 60-second target for answering calls has been one of the key themes throughout all of the monitoring meetings held between Dacorum and Seniorlink Eldercare. The contract monitoring meetings have been a valuable process and as a result Seniorlink Eldercare has made operational changes with the view of improving response times. Daily and hourly breakdown of call response times to identify if there are any trends. Recruitment drive for operators with emphasis on response times but also quality. Additional Duty Manager recruited. Creation of admin team to deal with non critical calls e.g. change in customer details, regular cover and access arrangements. Further increased inbound line capacity Additional call handling terminals 3.0 Relationship / monitoring: 3.1 On award of the contract regular handover and monitoring meetings were held between Dacorum and Seniorlink Eldercare. Since December 2010 regular monitoring meetings have taken place on a monthly to 6 week basis, with Seniorlink Eldercare visiting Dacorum and staff from within the service visiting them. These have included a group of Supported Housing Officers visiting the call centre to see how it operates and improve understanding. 3.2 Operational issues are discussed on a day to day basis with Dacorum Borough Council staff and staff at Eldercare, good practice is shared along with positive and negative feedback. 3.3 Monitoring arrangements: Weekly and monthly call records are forwarded by Eldercare to Dacorum listing the volume of calls, type of calls and response times. This enables Dacorum to analyse weekly and monthly performance and raise any identified issues. 3.4 The introduction of the internet and computer access for Supported Housing Officers (SHOs) will improve the ability for information to be communicated from the control centre to SHO s. This will reduce the traffic of nonemergency calls to access key safes from SHO s and recovering messages taken out of office hours. Page 4

5 4.0 Recommendations: There are four options available to Dacorum Borough Council with regard to the future provision of the community alarm response and monitoring service currently provided by Eldercare. 4.1 Continue with Eldercare as provider of service for both community alarm monitoring and out of hours repairs The contract with Eldercare was awarded on year basis. The two years expires in January 2012 and there is the opportunity to extend the contract for another 3 years as a block or on a basis. Implications: Service delivery If the current contract is extended by + 3 years, there will be no break in service delivery. It would therefore not be necessary to transfer to another control centre. Transfer of the service can be lengthy and the current provider s performance is at risk of declining during this period. Time can be spent improving the relationship and operation of the service with the objective of improving the response times when answering calls. Financial An RPI escalator is applied to the contract price on each anniversary of the contract start date. Risk maintenance of reputation response times have improved since the contract commenced; yet there is a risk to the Council s reputation as the service is yet to achieve the 60 seconds call answering response target. 4.2 Continue with Eldercare as provider of community alarm monitoring and response service and separate the out of hour s repairs service and retender. This option is being recommended to the Portfolio Holder with regard to the future of this contract. The contract with Seniorlink Eldercare is extended for a period of two years for community alarm monitoring service. The out of hours repairs call handling part of the contract will be separated and retendered. Implications: While the contract was originally tendered as one, there is the opportunity to separate the out of hour s repairs aspect from the community alarm monitoring and response. Provision within the contract can be varied from 17 January 2012 and the two elements separated. If they were to be separated then this could impact on the price of the alarm call element of the contract, resulting in an above RPI increase. The out of hours repairs service would need to be continued to be provided and whilst a retendering exercise is conducted a small extension of the contract would need to be negotiated If out of hour s repairs were to be separated following the review, then Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment regulations 2006 (TUPE) would need to be considered, as this could potentially result in a member of Page 5

6 Seniorlink Eldercare s staff being transferred to the new provider of the out of hour s repairs service. 4.3 Serve notice to exit the contract in January for both community alarm response and monitoring and the out of hours repairs service Implications: If this option were to be taken both services would need to be tendered. To ensure a continuation of the service this process would need to start immediately. A decision would also need to be made as to whether or not to separate the two services in future. Risk whilst the service is tendered, there is no guarantee that performance will be maintained or improve. The tendering process and the transfer of service could take up to 5 months to complete and may entail additional costs for the service to transfer (data and TUPE). It is worth noting Hertfordshire County Council, our funders, are considering community alarm monitoring arrangements for all support service providers across Hertfordshire from Eldercare could exit the contract Implications Could result in service being severely disrupted without an adequate replacement. Potentially a large number of vulnerable people could be left without the community alarm service leaving them at a significantly higher risk. 5.0 Out of hours repairs monitoring: 5.1 The current contract with Senior Link Eldercare is separated into two elements. The main element of the contract is the Community Alarm Call monitoring and response service and the second element is the Out of Hours Repairs Call response service. 5.2 The contract value of the two elements is as follows, within the current contract:- 52,000 per annum for the Community Alarm Call response service 18,000 per annum for the Out of Hours Repairs Service 5.3 The out of hours repairs call handling service receives, logs and arranges a response from MITIE to requests for emergency repair work outside of office hours (evenings and weekends). 5.4 As part of the process of compiling this report Dacorum Borough Council Housing Landlord service has sought to benchmark the out of hours repairs call handling service with a range of social landlords. In carrying out this exercise, Broxbourne Housing Association, North Herts Homes, Redbridge Homes service, Stevenage Homes, Watford Community Housing Trust and Yorkshire Housing were contacted. Page 6

7 5.5 Unfortunately the majority of housing landlords that were contacted do not gather or were unwilling to share performance data on the call handling of their out of hours repairs service. As a result we have only been able to benchmark our performance with Yorkshire Housing who answer 90% of their calls within 20 seconds (contract value 9,000 property numbers 1,800). Between January and March 2011, Seniorlink Eldercare responded to 79% of repairs calls on behalf of Dacorum Borough Council within 60 seconds (2,456 calls received). 1.6 The cost of the work being raised out of office hours is monitored. Between May 2010 and the middle of August 2011 the cost of the work raised was 173,961 ( 20,642 of work was undertaken by our gas contractor and 8,215 of work was undertaken on drainage). Over this period 3,084 jobs were raised at an average of 46 per week; of which 1,096 were passed to the gas contractor and 45 were regarding drainage issues. 5.7 Concerns have been raised regarding the level of work being ordered outside office hours. There are two main difficulties exist in dealing with out of hours repair requests:- 1. In diagnosing the repair request and establishing exactly what the tenant is requesting. To ensure the appropriate tools and parts are taken to the repair 2. In ensuring 24 hour access to the Housing Management system to:- a. verify the caller is a tenant b. to record the repair work c. arrange for the tenant to be charged for the repair work. Page 7

8 All repair Housing Management systems have some downtime usually at night, at DBC this down time is between 8pm 10pm. Normally this downtime records the data contained on the system to protect it from being lost. During this downtime period, the ability of repair orders to be logged and raised is severely limited. It is anticipated that any provider would experience these difficulties encountered by Senior Link Eldercare in delivering the Out of Hours Repairs Service. 6.0 Recommendation Out of hours repairs It is recommended that the Housing Landlord Service undertake a fundamental review of the Out of Hours Repairs service, to review the customer s experience of the service, the accuracy of repairs diagnosis, the type of work being undertaken outside of office hours and whether this constitutes good value for money. In order to enable this work to be undertaken it is recommended that the repairs element of the current Senior Link Eldercare contract is extended. 7.0 Issues raised at July 20 th Overview and scrutiny committee report At the last Overview and Scrutiny meeting, Members raised several issues regarding the contract and the community alarm monitoring service. Staff have investigated these and concluded as below: - Assessment of quality of service please see attached satisfaction survey results. - References requested at tendering stage 3 references were requested as part of the tender process. i) Wigan Metropolitan Borough Council. ii) Wigan and Leigh Housing Co Ltd. iii) Wirral Borough Council. - Reluctance of tenants/customers to come forward to make complaints Anonymous satisfaction surveys provide tenants customer s opportunity to raise any issues. In addition scheme surgeries are to be arranged to provide tenants further opportunity to raise concerns. - Performance of Tunstall previous provider 6 month average 95.71% of calls answered in 60 seconds. - If the contract is extended can DBC cancel the contract at any given moment? No the contract cannot be cancelled at any moment; the contract specifies the process that needs to be undertaken before the contract can be terminated. Page 8

9 Appendix 1: Performance Indictors Community Alarm: Month: 60 Seconds (Target 98.5% seconds (Target 99%) 2% toleration) January 95.39% 99.28% February 95.68% 99.43% March 94.7% 99.14% April 93.35% 98.68% New TSA Target 97.5%(2% toleration) May 95.98% 99.38% Jun 96.13% 99.53% Jul 95.16% 99.33% Appendix 2: Customer satisfaction: Please see below for a copy of the satisfaction survey and results and include all types of customers (those living in sheltered housing, private tenants, owneroccupiers and general needs tenants). We requested a sample of calls received by Eldercare which resulted in 348 questionnaires being sent out with 211 being returned which equates to a response rate of 60%. The results are set as below: 1. When you contacted the control centre, how satisfied or dissatisfied were you with the way your call was dealt with overall? Very satisfied 71% Fairly satisfied 24% Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied 2% Page 9

10 Fairly dissatisfied 2% Very dissatisfied 1% No opinion 0% 2. How would you rate us for the following? a) Speed of response in answering your call? 1. Very good 64% 2. Fairly good 27% 3. Neither good nor poor 6% 4. Fairly poor 1% 5. Very poor 2% 6. No opinion 0% b) The staff who answered your call being helpful and supportive? Very good 80% Fairly good 13% Neither poor nor good 5% Fairly Poor 1% Very poor 1% No opinion 0% Breaking these results down, the following show satisfaction results by types of customers dependent on tenure: 1. When you contacted the control centre, how satisfied or dissatisfied were you with the way your call was dealt with overall? Sheltered Housing Tenants General Needs housing, private rented and owner occupiers (Lifeline Customers) Satisfied 94% 94% 2. How would you rate us for the following? Speed of response in answering your call? Sheltered Housing Tenants General Needs housing, private rented and owner occupiers (Lifeline Customers) Good 81% 96% 2. How would you rate us for the following? The staff who answered your call being helpful and supportive? Sheltered Housing Tenants General Needs housing, private rented and owner occupiers Good 92.5% 95% Page 10

11 Appendix 3: Benchmarking: A benchmarking exercise was carried out to rate performance against other providers within the local area. It was not possible to gain satisfaction levels from Milton Keynes. Stevenage Homes were also contacted, they stated that due to problems reaching the TSA standards they no longer keep statistics on response times, they rely on customer satisfaction, customer feedback and mystery shopper results. Page 11

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