From theory to practice: part 2

By Rob Wray, Chief Innovation Officer - on 19/10/2020

“We know that data standards are the right idea. The issue is how to make them work in practice.”

The words of an anonymous social housing colleague last week resonated with all of us at HACT. As we’ve promoted and developed the UK Housing Data Standards over the last three years, so more and more colleagues from across the sector have joined the movement. 

The next iteration we’re focusing on might be the most pertinent and important of all: resident feedback and complaints, which you can still take part in.

With the recent sign-up of Derventio and Magenta Living to resident feedback and complaints development handover, we’re also heeding Dame Judith Hackitt’s advice about the importance of including smaller organisations in the development of the UK Housing Data Standnards. 

“Processes to share good practice across wider industry are not always in place,” she wrote in her letter to HACT. “The ISSG would like to see those who are further ahead doing more to bring others up with them. With this in mind, we ask HACT to consider what more can be done to support the smaller players with less finance and resources to make the changes required to support the culture change that is so desperately needed.” 

In July this year, the Housing Ombudsman’s Complaints Code was published. The Code ensures that, “complaint handling data is being used consistently across landlord members, promotes engagement at different levels within a landlord and sets out expectations for boards or equivalent governance, senior executives and frontline staff”.

The Code is a vision for a cultural change in the sector, which brings complaints handling data insights into the core of organisations as they strive to deliver better services for their residents.

The importance of hearing the resident voice was echoed by Dame Judith Hackitt in her letter to HACT last month.

“We were pleased to hear that resident feedback will be a centrepiece for the next release of the UKHDS,” she wrote. “I was clear in my review that the people who matter most in all of this are residents - who must be safe and feel safe in their homes. We welcome seeing resident feedback front and centre of this work.”

Resident feedback has risen up the social housing agenda since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, as social housing organisations engage their residents at unprecedented levels. We estimate that between March and July, over 1.7 million welfare calls have been made by the sector.

The figures are impressive. The issue is, what have organisations been doing with this wealth of data? And do they have the standards in place to ensure that it’s consistently record, so that it can be put to best use for the business?

Developing the UK Housing Data Standards is one part of the solution. The other is in implementing them across your business: in other words, putting theory into practice.

Before you start implementing, you’ve have to understand data. You need to understand data governance, data standards and the value of data to the business. 

To facilitate this, in August we launched the OSCRE Learning Lab. Developed in partnership with OSCRE, the global experts in data standards, the course has been designed for the specific needs of social housing data colleagues.

As one of the delegates noted afterwards, “The Learning Lab is a fantastic source of information and caters for all levels of knowledge”. We’re now hosting another OSCRE Learning Lab for November and have plans for further events next year.

While simultaneously helping the sector improve its data literacy, the OSCRE Learning Lab also provides an opportunity for delegates to “collaborate with others who are at different stages in the implementation of the data standards”, as another delegate noted.

After all, it’s in their implementation that the true value of the data standards will become evident.

From speaking with those who have been implementing the standards, we know there is no exact science behind it. Different organisations are at different stages of the process.

There are some key learnings that we want to share with the sector, an outline framework that organisations can reference as they begin the implementation process. At the same time, we want to find out what other support you need as you look to implement the standards.

If you’re looking to put the standards into practice, please sign up to our interactive event on 30 October. It will be an opportunity to share your thoughts, ask your questions and discover how others are putting the theory of data standards into practice.

For further information about the data standards, please contact Billy Holt.

Sign up to our event, Implementation, capability and design: the UK Housing Data Standards.

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