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KIM branded as a silver bullet for social housing

Getting Knowledge and Information Management (KIM) right is key for the sector according to the Housing Ombudsman.
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The latest report, On the record: Spotlight on Knowledge and Information Management, makes 21 recommendations looking at governance, repairs and recording standards.

As part of the report the Ombudsman reviewed these issues within its casework, with approximately two thirds of the cases upheld having an issue with the data and information available to assess.

The sector’s problems with knowledge and information have led to unacceptable delays for residents, missed appointments, vulnerabilities being missed and residents experiencing financial detriment.

Also set out in the report is a series of real-life experiences of residents that identify where things have gone wrong to share learning more widely. This includes investigations where a landlord’s lack of adequate systems to record contact with residents led to the landlord being unable to respond to a leak for eight years, another resident who lost 14 days annual leave due to missed appointments and a landlord’s failure to use its records to identify that a disabled resident had not had appropriate adaptations made to her bathroom.

The report also details the responses to the call for evidence. It reveals 56% of respondents having issues accessing or being provided with records in order to respond to complaints, with 82% of those saying it impacts their ability to fully address complaints.

In the report, the Ombudsman makes 21 recommendations, including:

  • Implement a Knowledge and Information Management Strategy – this should include defining what KIM is, an implementation of an Information Asset Register and how this strategy will align with the overall business strategy and the need for continuous service improvement
  • Train staff on the requirements of the Equality Act 2010 – particularly with relevance to the importance of knowledge and information management as a tool for compliance
  • Review internal guidance around recording vulnerabilities – Particularly to ensure temporary, as well as permanent, vulnerabilities are recognised, recorded and then removed from records once no longer appropriate
  • Develop organisational key data recording standard requirements – this will ensure the landlord has good records that support the landlord and demonstrate compliance with national standards. It should also set out the minimum standard to which data must be entered
  • Stress test systems prior to a merger – This will identify whether they can ‘talk’ to each other; data can be securely transferred, and staff from each landlord can access the data they need
  • Set out clear requirements of operatives before they are allowed to record an appointment as missed – This should include ensuring that the appointment was notified to the resident, it was made at a time they could attend, checking that any contact requests were adhered to, guidance on what level of contact.

Richard Blakeway, Housing Ombudsman, said: “Unlike previous Spotlight reports, which have concentrated on areas of service provision, this report focuses on an underlying reason that services end up failing.

“The correlation between poor knowledge and information management and delay, poor communication, financial uncertainty and poor complaints handling, and the human consequences of that, are evident throughout our casework.

“Successful knowledge and information management starts with an understanding and appreciation of its benefits to both the landlord and its residents. This needs to be centrally led, with senior leaders clear about the importance of knowledge and information management, and their standards and expectations.

“For landlords, this can feel like another thing on an already impossible to-do list, but poor information management is such a strong and reoccurring theme across service areas that it is the closest thing the sector could get to a silver bullet. I urge the sector to digest the learning from this report and create a KIM strategy that stops these issues from occurring and fosters a more positive complaints culture.”

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