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Scotland Innovation and Partnerships in TECS

Dr Lynne Douglas, Chief Executive of Bield Housing& TSA Board Director for Scotland talks about her principle learnings from the pandemic, health and social care partnerships, new models of care in Scotland, and the potential for TEC to bolster community assets.


Never has this quote from Charles Darwin been as true, as we emerge from the significant impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had across the world. Like many other registered social landlords Bield Housing & Care has had to adapt at speed and instigate a full pandemic plan to keep our staff and tenants safe.

As a national provider we operate in 23 Local Authority areas and are geographically spread. The vast majority of our customers are over the age of 75 and many have been shielding as a result of significant risk factors. We have over 700 front line staff that has throughout this time worked tirelessly to keep our customer safe and ensure that they receive the help they require. For many this has required them to wear personal protective equipment throughout their working hours and adapt with novel ways to provide support.

Our Covid-19 learnings

The principle learning we have had from this episode is that we are and can be an agile organisation and work through challenges in an adaptive way. For example our contact centre has forty –nine staff and we run these 24 hours per day 7 days per week. When lockdown was announced the team took a very pragmatic view and worked in partnership with Information Technology staff, to move all of the contact staff to working from home. This was no mean feat and took seven days to complete with staff working and testing over the weekend to facilitate the move. This has not had any impact on call centre performance and has indeed improved

  • Sickness absence (improved from 6.1% to 3.4%)
  • Increased availability for shift cover
  • Enabled more time for staff to focus on calls

A desire to move forward and investments made in the previous 15 months has enabled us to effectively run a virtual contact centre throughout this crisis. All of our contact staffappreciate working from home during this time and half of them would like to see this continue.

On a practical level we have used Microsoft teams to stay connected and had a focus throughout on staff health & wellbeing.

Our Future Ambitions

Throughout this episode we have become as an organisation much closer to our customers and the communities our developments are within. Outbound proactive calling has been a core delivery that our staff have committed to. Making more than 10,000 calls per week to engage with our customers and check on what they need has been very well received. Not our entire customer bases who were vulnerable wanted this but many did. The top three areas where help was required were:

  • Concerns regarding food and nutrition
  • Linking people with family and friends due to concerns relating to isolation
  • Connecting to local communities.

As a Housing Association working mainly with the older population we can see the strength that we potentially can play in establishing community anchors and utilising the assets around in the community to keep older people living longer healthier and happier lives within their own homes.

The public service reform agenda in Scotland through integrated health and social care partnerships offers much when we can work in partnership and align shared information that enables communities to thrive. We are also keen to explore all of the potential digital and technology can bring to this.

We have recently signed up with Digital Health & Care Institute in Scotland to partner with others and test a model of care that would work in Scotland.The aim of this is to learn from others (e.g. Proactive model in Wales) to drive innovation in the sector and link Health & Social Care partnership, Local Authority and ourselves in running a proactive telecare model.The aim is to demonstrate that by working differently across the system, we can improve value for citizens, also for the wider public services in Scotland. We look forward to reporting more on this project in due course.

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