Review of block/communal cleaning


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cobalt tenant scrutiny panel review of block cleaning powerpoint presentation designed created by connor moss monday 7th november 2011


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contents section introduction page 1 background 1 details of activities a b c d telephone calls block visits good practices interviews 2 2 2 3 main findings a strengths b areas for improvement 4 4-5 our recommendations a b c d e f g h cleaning standard s window cleaning tenant feedback tenant scrutiny complaints contract monitoring keys to blocks tenants responsibilities 5 5 5 6 6 6 6 7 7 action plan conclusion appendix 7 7 8-11


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foreword as chair of the cobalt housing scrutiny panel i am pleased to present our first review since may 2011the scrutiny panel has undertaken training with linda levin scrutiny and empowerment and has been mentored by dave warnock tpas we have attended events sharing best practice with other organisations that ensure their company delivers an excellent level of service that their customers demand and indeed deserve we anticipate that the newly formed cobalt tenant scrutiny panel will be an invaluable tool in this respect recruitment activity continued with members being recruited throughout our training period and we now have a 15 strong panel listed below it is our aim to help cobalt make improvements and ensure they are meeting the needs of the tenants by closely examining all services supplied by cobalt housing and help to achieve a standard of excellence for both tenants and cobalt housing tenant scrutiny panel members larry shelbourne chair ethel sumner vice chair debbie mottram secretary phyllis booth joyce cooper peter halliday janet heckingbottom edith hodge ronnie thomas joan johnson natalie kennedy joanne maxwell sophia muncaster rhona parker beryl robinson


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cobalt housing scrutiny panel review of block cleaning 1 introduction the purpose of this report is to set out the progress made by the scrutiny panel members in relation to our scrutiny of block cleaning this report sets out the approach we took and the activities we carried out as part of our review our findings and recommendations 2 background we identified block cleaning as our first review and then received training from linda levin scrutiny and empowerment partners to help us to develop our approach to scrutiny we piloted our approach in scrutinising the block cleaning service we started the training and pilot review in june 2011 and completed the review in early october 2011 the approach we decided to adopt in scrutinising services is as follows fact finding reviewing service standards policies procedures and performance information costs quality and tenants views relating to the service challenge and compare examining what other landlords do and try to identify good practice recommendations analysing our findings and making recommendations to cobalt s board followed by asking cobalt housing to produce an action plan demonstrating how our recommendations will be addressed monitor and evaluate once we have an action plan we will monitor progress and evaluate outcomes for tenants in conducting our review we have received an initial presentation from cobalt about the block cleaning service and reviewed additional performance information we requested afterwards carried out telephone and face to face surveys involving tenants who live in the blocks that receive a cleaning service visited blocks at different stages in the cleaning cycle mostly just after the cleaning contractor has carried out the specified work examined good practices through the use of benchmark data and website reviews 1|p age


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visited one vision housing as we were really impressed with the information we found on their website completed interviews with the cleaning supervisor and cobalt s officer who is responsible for the management of the cleaning contract 3 details of the activities we carried out a telephone calls we completed 32 tenant satisfaction surveys during july and august 2011 most of these were done by telephone and some were completed by holding face to face interviews with tenants during block inspections tenants from blocks in the following locations participated in our survey invergarry road utting avenue east ternhall way east lancashire road karonga mosspits close lower lane we did try to contact a wide selection of tenants however we were advised not contact tenants who had been `flagged/highlighted by cobalt these were tenants who staff would not visit alone for safety reasons in the end we made around 50 calls and managed to speak to 32 tenants telephone numbers were `out of service or no longer available for some of the 18 tenants we were unable to contact a summary of the telephone survey results are shown in appendix a b block visits we visited and inspected blocks in the following locations invergarry road oaktree gardens falcon hey karonga haven road 2|p age


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photographs we took during the block inspections are available c review of good practices and benchmark data four of our panel members met to identify potential good practice visits after a review of various landlords websites and tenants satisfaction levels we decided to request that cobalt housing arrange visits to four local landlords so that we could find out more about their block cleaning only one of the landlord s we wanted to visit one vision housing was able to accommodate us we visited them on 4 th october 2011 and they made us feel very welcome however our visit ultimately focused on how they approach tenant scrutiny d interviews some of our panel members met with cobalt s officer who manages the block cleaning contract and the cleaning supervisor in order to request further information such as what is the specification for block cleaning is it the same for all blocks how is the contract monitored and how is quality checked how do the cleaners do their job how long are the cleaners supposed to spend at each block and what jobs are they supposed to do as part of the contract why is there so little customer feedback relating to block cleaning does cobalt give tenants a clear idea of what the cleaning service covers and the standards required i.e what they can expect we had asked to speak to some of the block cleaners as part of our review however this request was refused we are disappointed about this as we understand that other scrutiny panels do have access to contractor s staff when completing a review 4 our main findings a strengths satisfaction data provided by officers indicated that a massive majority of tenants returning the satisfaction cards for cleaning services were happy with the service provided 22 out of 32 tenants we spoke to said they were happy with the service 3|p age


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16 out of 28 tenants we spoke to said they thought the service was good or excellent a further 9 out of 28 said the service was okay but then went on to raise concerns about the standard of service and value for money our block inspections revealed good first impressions of cleanliness when first entering the blocks and a good standard of vacuuming we were informed that notice boards have been ordered for the blocks so that information such as block cleaning details can be displayed there are different `specifications and different amounts of time spent cleaning each block to reflect the different levels of cleaning required in each location however please see areas for improvement below for further comments about this b areas for improvement 20 out of 32 tenants we surveyed said that they had never received a copy of the cleaning standard nor information about the level of service they could expect 10 out of 32 tenants we spoke to said that they were dissatisfied with the cleaning service out of 8 tenants who told us they had complained only one felt that their complaint had been resolved or had been acknowledged only one tenant has made a formal complaint about the cleaning service in the last 18 months we were informed by officers that whilst the cleaning contractor and tenants can submit complaints the system for capturing complaints is cumbersome and in need of an overhaul resultantly few formal complaints are logged we were also informed that informal complaints are not collated very few tenants return their satisfaction surveys only 333 were returned last year we understand that cobalt housing is considering introducing telephone surveys to help obtain more tenant feedback only 8 out of 27 tenants we spoke to said they were always asked to complete a satisfaction card 10 said they had never received a card 14 out of 26 of the tenants surveyed said the cleaning service does not represent value for money 4|p age


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3 tenants we spoke with did not know that there is a service charge for cleaning block inspections revealed evidence that very little time is spent on cleaning at blocks in invergarry road we found signed cleaning sheets that indicated the cleaner had spent less than 30 minutes in some blocks we understand that different amounts of time are allowed for different blocks but from the information we received and the information provided to all tenants it is not clear how long the cleaners should be spending in each block cleaning time allocations did not add up on the cleaning schedule e.g in the case of inverrgarry road 2a 2b and oaktree gardens the total time recorded on the schedule for these blocks was recorded as being 6 hrs but the individual time allocations for these three blocks added up to only 5.5 hours also the cleaning supervisor we spoke to was not aware of the time allocations in cobalt s cleaning schedule we were informed that block cleaning is monitored through complaints customer satisfaction surveys and block inspections however these methods do not appear to be effective in ensuring consistently good standards of cleaning see our block inspection findings below `lack of attention to detail was the overall message from our block inspections the panel members felt that the standard of cleaning fell short of what was included in the specification some examples of the panel s findings illustrating this are set out below ornaments on window sills are not moved to allow the sills to be cleaned thoroughly cleaning staff said they were concerned about breaking the ornaments and that s why they do not move them dead flies were found on window sills there were cobwebs and vents were dirty all of which should have been cleaned and could have been reached by the cleaners without needing step ladders skirting boards radiators wall lights stairs and stair rails did not appear to have been cleaned we were informed that these should be picked up as part of the cleaning contract 5|p age


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no one appears to be responsible for cleaning internal windows in communal areas and light fittings posters in some communal areas were displayed haphazardly we were informed that notice boards have now been ordered for the blocks so that information can be displayed in a more orderly fashion tenants are using plug in air fresheners in communal areas this is a potential hazard and we understand that the fire service has recommended removal of these air fresheners windows in communal areas not cleaned on the inside and window cleaning standards vary some of the tenants we spoke to asked that the internal windows be cleaned as part of the block cleaning contract there is a difference in opinion between cobalt s manager and cleaning contractor about who is responsible for this it is unclear who if anyone should be cleaning the internal windows in communal areas the block in haven road did not appear to have been cleaned at all there is no facility in the blocks for tenants and cleaners to provide suggestions and record damage/repairs the cleaning contractor s supervisor stated that she has been asking for keys for one block since november 2010 and is still waiting this is a block comprising two flats and we were informed that one of the tenants leaves their dog in the communal area even though there has been no access and therefore no cleaning carried out at this block we understand that both tenants are being charged for the cleaning service at the time of writing this report still waiting for information promised e.g actual number of customer satisfaction surveys returned to cobalt and clarification about the cleaning time allocations for each block 5 our recommendations a cleaning standards information for tenants we recommend that cobalt housing should take the following steps to provide tenants with clear information about the cleaning service 6|p age


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produce and distribute a leaflet setting out the standard of cleaning that tenants can expect we recommend that the standard should be clarified by including pictures in the leaflet illustrating the cleaning standard the leaflet should also include the tasks the cleaners are required to complete and the amount of time they will spend in each block a copy of this leaflet should be displayed in each block on the new notice boards tenants should be involved in the design and content of this leaflet b window cleaning we recommend that cobalt should take the following steps in relation to the cleaning of internal windows in communal areas clarify whether all internal windows cleaning in communal areas is included in the block cleaning contract if it is the contract should be enforced if all internal window cleaning is not included in the block cleaning contract consult tenants to find out their views about introducing this service c tenant feedback we recommend that cobalt take the following action to capture more tenant feedback about the cleaning service develop a survey form that asks questions about whether the standards have been achieved amount of time taken activities carried out by the cleaners and customer care i.e based on the service promised to tenants implement telephone and/or door to door tenant surveys to capture feedback about the cleaning service involve the customer inspectors in carrying out the surveys provide suggestion boxes at each block so that tenants can return surveys and make suggestions and complaints in this way d tenant scrutiny of performance we recommend that cobalt takes the following action to improve contract monitoring arrangements 7|p age


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report the findings of the tenant surveys and complaints performance and cost data to the scrutiny panel on a quarterly basis so that we can scrutinise performance this should be accompanied by details of any learning points arising from the satisfaction results and complaints and an action plan setting out how these will be addressed publish performance cost satisfaction results and any improvements to be made to the service in the tenant newsletter and on the website e complaints we recommend that cobalt take the following steps to improve complaints handling and to ensure that complaints are used to drive service improvement review the current process for customer complaints and implement improvements to ensure that all complaints are recorded and resolved report complaints about cleaning along with any learning points and actions to be taken to the scrutiny panel on a quarterly basis and publicise this information so that all tenants can scrutinise performance record and collate all informal complaints made about the block cleaning service and use this information to monitor the contract f contract monitoring we recommend that cobalt introduce the following measures to improve contract monitoring arrangements develop a checklist for block inspections based on the cleaning standard and involve the customer inspectors in carrying out regular inspections use the findings to drive improvements in the standard of cleaning involve the customer inspectors in the contract monitoring meetings to feedback their findings 8|p age


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g keys to blocks we recommend that cobalt takes immediate steps to ensure that the cleaning contractor has access to all blocks for the purpose of carrying out their cleaning duties h tenants responsibilities we recommend that cobalt takes steps ask tenants to remove ornaments from window sills in communal areas so that these can be cleaned properly or ask tenants to sign a disclaimer allowing the contractor to move the ornaments when cleaning write to all tenants in the blocks asking them not to use plug in air fresheners in the communal areas pointing out the reasons and potential hazards 6 action plan as agreed with the board we require cobalt housing to produce a smart action plan setting out how and when they will implement our recommendations we will monitor progress against this action plan and monitor outcomes for tenants through the feedback we receive from customers it would be very helpful if cobalt produces the action plan by the time of our monthly meeting in december 2011 so that we can commence monitoring our communications strategy states that officers should produce an action plan in consultation with us within two weeks however given that this is a pilot review and we and the officers are learning as we go along we have decided to allow officers a little longer to prepare the draft action plan for our consideration we will require monthly progress reports from officers from january 2011 regarding progress in implementing our recommendations 7 concluding remarks and learning points in terms of learning points we would ask that in future reviews we should be allowed access to meet with all key personnel involved in delivering services we are scrutinising including contractors staff this first service review has been a learning curve for the scrutiny panel and cobalt s staff we have learned a great deal from this pilot service review about what we would and would not do again and hope that cobalt staff feel the same about their involvement 9|p age


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we would like to thank all of the officers and the cleaning contractor for the support they provided and their cooperation throughout our review we will be writing to everyone who worked with us including tenants we interviewed during the review to thank them for their involvement and cooperation and to let them know the action cobalt will be taking to further improve the block cleaning service we will send the letters immediately after the board meeting we feel that it is important to let people know how their involvement has made a difference as well as thanking them for their input we would also like to thank the board and senior management team for their continuing support finally the chair and vice chair of the panel would like to thank all panel members for their hard work and dedication in carrying out the review and producing this report 10 page



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