Category: testimonial, Housing, What Our People Say, Staff Testimonial, Supported Housing, PA Housing, COVID-19, covid
PA Housing Tenancy Officer Leigh Robinson joins us via Zoom to talk about providing intensive housing management during the coronavirus crisis.
What is your average day usually like?
I haven't really got an average day. I work in intensive housing management, with around 30 customers who have additional housing needs, and may have previously been in secure environments, but now have General Needs tenancies.
All of the tenants I work with have enduring mental health problems – a schizophrenia diagnosis from an early age, for example. It's my job to ensure these tenants get to stay in their own flats – I do whatever I can to try to keep them out of hospital - often working between customers and various outreach and Social Services.
I’ve got some customers who don’t trust anybody, and they will not let anybody in their flats. It has taken me two years to build up some tenants' trust to the point that they'll let the gas operative into their flats, but only if I'm with them. It's a slow process, but it saves PA Housing paperwork, and (potentially) Court Orders - to gain access for gas safety checks. It also saves these customers a lot of distress.
What has your average day been like during the Covid-19 crisis?
The last few months have been difficult for a lot of my customers, and some of them have really struggled because they don't understand that, at the moment, the world can’t operating quite the same as pre-Covid.
I've been working my usual hours, but I've had a lot more phone calls to deal with; and although I've had a lot less face-to-face contact with customers in the flesh, I have had to visit those who won't talk on the phone, but we've stood apart.
One tenant, in particular, feels threatened by the thought of people listening in on his calls, and nothing I say is going to change the way he feels – his illness means it's not possible to reason with him. When he asks if I can come and see him, he gets distressed if I try to explain that I can't because of Covid.
Some residents have problems with perceived harassment from their neighbours. They feel they're being persecuted – but there's no evidence the persecution is actually happening. For me, it's about working with them to find out how they want the situation to be handled and do what I can to manage their expectations.
I spend a lot of time with people who feel very frustrated and angry. Today I've been speaking to a tenant who can't understand why a repair he needs doing isn't an emergency and therefore the PA team haven't been able to fix it. To him, it is an emergency, so he's not happy about it – but he's unwell, and when people aren't well, they are not always reasonable. I try not to take it personally.
What is the most important thing you’ve learned during this unusual time?
I would never have classed myself as extrovert, but I really miss speaking to people in-person. I miss not being able to nip down to the floor below and ask one of my colleagues a quick question. I really hadn't realised how much I rely on being around people in the flesh.
What is your favourite part of your job?
I never know what I’m going to get when I answer the telephone. I never know what problem I’m going to need to solve. I like that I don’t always immediately know what I need to do, and that I have to think my way around situations – that’s the challenge.
What would you say makes you unique?
I’m unique in that I’m the only person who does my job at PA Housing. I love that I'm not micro-managed and my team let me get on with it.