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Posted On: 29-06-2020
Posted In: Housing

Image of a workman washing his handsTenants of MDDC have been supported throughout the pandemic by both the Housing and Repairs Teams.

The Housing Service, with support from colleagues from our Leisure and Building Services, made a staggering 2,977 calls to vulnerable people since the restrictions began on 23 March. Additionally, 514 tenants requested regular contact and the housing team is continuing to contact them to ensure they are well and have the necessary food and support they need.

Meanwhile the repairs team has continued its work, albeit with changes to their working practises. In the first month of lockdown the team carried out around 500 essential and outside repairs and now that figure has risen to approximately 1600.

Nathan, a repairs operative who has worked for the Council for five years, has continued to work on emergency repairs since the Government introduced the lockdown measures. Equipped with personal protective equipment, (mask, gloves and suit) Nathan was based from home but would receive a list of emergency jobs to his tablet and then arrange a safe visit, direct with tenants.

Nathan said:

“We had a good system in place that enabled myself and the tenants to feel safe, but still get the jobs done. Tenants would clean the area in advance, then I’d arrive and let them know I was there, they would then open the door but wait in another room until I’d finished the job, before the area was cleaned again.”

The routine was unusual but also welcomed by people, especially those who were vulnerable, or sometimes just lonely.

Nathan added:

“I would work away and some people would like to have a chat from the next room. Many people hadn’t seen anyone for weeks so while the works were about emergency repairs there was also an element of welfare to many of the recent jobs. People were happy to see us and felt we were there for them and there to protect them.”

When not carrying out repairs the team completed online training modules and were busy planning for a return to business as usual.

Rosie Wills, Building Services Office Manager, said:

“As well as emergency repairs we included a number of disabled adaptations to support hospital discharges and also created videos to explain to tenants what to expect from a repairs visit. These included what we will do to keep them safe, and also what we expect them to do and these were really well received. We’ve had some really good success with the changes to the way we contact tenants and diagnose repairs, which we’ll probably take forward, post Covid-19 to provide better customer service to busy working tenants.”

Both the housing and repairs teams have been buoyed by the positive feedback from customers both in person and through messages left for the team.

Comments received include these recent messages:

“Well Done Mid Devon! You have been brilliant throughout this terrible time. I have really appreciated the weekly phone call to ensure that I’m safe and offers of help! Thank you.”
“I would like to express my gratitude on the performance of both the plumber and his apprentice, and the electrician for the work carried out in my home this morning. Social distancing was observed throughout their visit, and work carried out efficiently.”
 “Very happy with the outcome, he was very considerate and social distanced perfectly! Thank you again, it is very much appreciated!”
 “I had a full wet room installed as an adaptation and the worker was called George. He was a really good worker, worked really hard and was very clean. He listened to my needs and I would like to thank him.”

Cabinet Member for Housing, Cllr Simon Clist, said:

“Our Housing and Building teams have performed exceptionally well under very difficult circumstances. The working environment is challenging but our officers have adapted the way that they do things and have still been able to reach out to tenants and respond to their needs. It’s another example of how Team Mid Devon has risen to the challenge this pandemic has set us.”