About Near Me
Near Me is a secure, web-based video appointments service that’s available to all social landlords, large and small. The system was originally set up for use by NHS Scotland and is currently being trialled by housing organisations. The public sector licence made available through the Scottish Government enables local authorities, housing associations and co-operatives to use Near Me for free until at least 2023. This means that landlords can now offer their tenants an additional, video call option for accessing services, such as housing management, assessing reported repairs, welfare benefit advice etc.
Bridgewater Housing Association is committed to providing opportunities for tenants to maximise the opportunities that digital technologies can bring. The Association decided to trial Near Me in its housing support service (sheltered housing) to engage with sheltered tenants through face-to-face calls, initially to reduce isolation and loneliness.
Taking A Person-Centred Approach
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Association’s staff have been working from home and carrying out enhanced welfare calls to tenants via the telephone. The advantages of Near Me video calls include:
- staff being able to visually check how tenants are
- using video calls to support plan reviews (currently carried out over the phone)
- potential to include family members in reviews.
Recently, Bridgewater Housing Association was successful in securing a number of digital tablet devices for its sheltered housing tenants through Connecting Scotland funding. Having the opportunity to use Near Me will help further develop tenants’ skills and confidence. It will also offer an additional means of communication with those who are already digitally active. The video calling platform has the potential to become a valuable part of the service for those who want to communicate this way. The Association has already included an article in its sheltered and extra care newsletter to tenants, raising awareness of the platform.
Initial feedback from the tenants involved in the video calls has been very positive. Tenants commented that it was easy to join the video call and they would be interested in taking part in similar calls again. Staff too feel that Near Me is easy to access and use. They have enjoyed engaging with tenants through this format, especially as there have been few face-to-face visits during the pandemic. There is the potential for Bridgewater Housing Association to expand the use of Near Me video calls to welfare rights, housing management and technical services.
About Bridgewater Housing Association
www.bridgewaterha.org.uk Bridgewater Housing Association is a registered social landlord and aims to be a customer focussed organisation which delivers the best affordable housing and services to people who need them most. The Association offers a range of accommodation and services to families, single people, older people and people with disabilities. It supplies care and repair services to three local authorities and provides a housing support service to 95 sheltered tenants and 46 tenants who live in its two extra care developments at Robertson House and Clayson House in Erskine. The Association also has a relationship with over 2500 owner occupiers who it provides a factoring service to.