Hello and welcome to the third instalment of our Rochdale sprint notes. Sprint notes are a short recap of what we’ve been doing, learning and what we’re going to be doing next.
Too long; didn’t read — a short summary for busy people
While covid-19 has pressed pause on our testing activities, some prototypes have been accelerated into implementation as conditions change.
We’ve also been thinking about our learning across the prototypes and what that means at the scale of the service, specifically how we can increase engagement with the private rented sector.
Since we last shared our sprint notes, the world has changed as a result of covid-19. We’d like to share what this change has meant for us as a project team, the housing service and Rochdale as a council.
Responding to change
Right in the middle of testing concepts with residents, attending multidisciplinary meetings and shadowing new tenant visits, the UK went into lockdown.
In a matter of 24 hours, the research and testing schedule was scrapped for urgent service redesign to meet user needs within these new constraints. Multidisciplinary team meetings went online, meal drop-in services went to takeaway and group activities became 1-1s to reduce risk to service users and staff and deliver a reduced service.
Whilst services quickly adapted, people across the council and the third sector were being deployed to do different roles or meet new demands. Consequently and understandably, they did not have the headspace for the conversations we’d planned about reimagining a service.
Even though our plan B to undertake testing virtually or over the phone was possible, it was not appropriate until the people we were speaking with had a sense of stability in their lives.
For the team in Rochdale Strategic Housing, as for all other local authorities, resources immediately shifted to meet this emergency. The team were suddenly handling a tsunami of urgent phone calls and emails triggered by the daily changes to Government advice.
Covid-19 introduced a new set of challenges to a service already under stress and facing increasing demand. Housing and homelessness services around the world are frantically responding to the implications of shared accommodation, large scale hospital and prison discharge, tenants unable to pay their rent and domestic abuse.