Frequently asked questions

At Thorngate Churcher, we aim to answer answer all questions from both our residents and their loved ones.

Here we cover the most frequently asked questions but do contact us if we have not covered something you would like to know.

General questions

Thorngate Churcher Trust is regulated by a number of different bodies which include the Regulator of Social Housing (RSH), Charity Commission and the Care Quality Commission.

The Charity Commission, which registers and regulates charities in England and Wales, to ensure that the public can support charities with confidence. The Charity Commission is a non-ministerial department.

The Regulator of Social Housing  The Regulator of Social Housing is a non-departmental public body that regulates private registered providers of social housing to promote a viable, efficient and well-governed social housing sector able to deliver homes that meet a range of needs.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the independent regulator of health and social care in England and it regulates, checks and inspects care homes including Russell Churcher Court.

The Trust is also a member of:

The Housing Ombudsman Service (HOS) examines complaints about registered providers of social housing, for example housing associations, and other landlords, managers and agents. The service is free, independent and impartial. The HOS is an executive non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Department for Communities and Local Government.

The National Housing Federation (NHF), which represents the work of housing associations and campaigns for better housing. NHF members provide two and a half million homes for more than five million people.

The Almshouse Association represents 1,700 independent UK almshouse charities, providing homes for more than 35,000 people.

Thorngate Living’s own uniformed professional maintenance team ensures that any maintenance or repair work is carried out quickly, without fuss and to an excellent standard. The Trust is committed to providing the highest standards of care and accommodation.

New development questions

Once construction begins, the site will be operating between the hours of 8am and 5pm – Monday to Friday.

The entrance to the site will be on Sealark Road.

Works involving the oak tree will be carried out by the main contractor after it has taken possession of the site.

The wildlife was managed by the ecologist in line with the planning application.

The start date has not yet been fixed, we are awaiting updates from the main contractor.

Here is the quick link to our online application form

Homes England, the government’s housing and regeneration agency, has provided a grant to help us deliver new affordable homes in Gosport.

To show how this money is spent, we publish all expenditure above £500 with this information reported on a quarterly basis in each financial year.

2023-2024

Quarter 4 January to March

Quarter 3 October to December

Quarter 2 July to September

Quarter 1 April to June

2022-2023

Quarter 4 January to March

Quarter 3 October to December

Quarter 2 July to September

Quarter 1 April to June

2021-2022

Quarter 4 January to March

Quarter 3 October to December

Quarter 2 July to September

Quarter 1 April to June

2020-2021

Quarter 4 January to March

Quarter 3 October to December

Quarter 2 July to September

Sheltered housing questions

People aged 50 years or over. The applicant must be fit to live alone and be able to look after her/himself.

This can vary, and could be months to a couple of years. It is dependent on the applicants banding, priorities such as requiring a ground floor flat, desired site and the amount of movement we have had within our schemes.

Complaints Policy

The purpose of our complaints policy is to deal with all complaints promptly, ensuring that they are all treated fairly and consistently. Our aim is to take action to put things right and continuously learn and improve our service.

Defining a complaint

Following the introduction of the Housing Ombudsman’s complaint handling code updated in April 2023, a complaint is universally defined as:

“an expression of dissatisfaction, however made, about the standard of service, actions or lack of action by the organisation, its own staff, or those acting on its behalf, affecting an individual resident or group of residents.”

As part of the Complaints Handling Code we have carried out a self-assessment agains the code as requested by the Housing Ombudsman which can be found here: TCT Complaints handling code self-assessment

Exclusions where a complaint will not be considered

The complaints policy does not apply where:

  • The complaint has already been considered under the complaints policy
  • Level of WMC charge, resident is unhappy with the amount of increase rather than believing it has been incorrectly calculated
  • A resident complains about the behaviour of another resident. This would be dealt with under Anti-Social Behaviour
  • The complainant refuses to reasonably engage with TCT and/or the process after making the complaint, is abusive to staff or acts unreasonably
  • The issue of the complaint occurred over six months ago
  • Complaints made by TCT staff – these are dealt with under the grievance procedure through HR.

RESIDENTS

If you have a complaint or a problem has arisen which cannot be readily solved by a discussion with the other party or the Warden, the following complaints procedure should be adopted.

Process

Under the Housing Act 1996 all almshouse charities which are, or were, Registered Social Landlords with the Housing Corporation, have a regulatory obligation to maintain a Complaints Procedure.   It is recommended good practice for all almshouse charities to have a Complaints Procedure available for residents.

Many people are reluctant to complain.  Your management team and Trustees can only resolve problems and improve the service they offer if you speak up when things go wrong. Set out below is a procedure to be followed if any resident wishes to raise a complaint in connection with the occupation of his or her almshouse or about services provided by the Trust relating to the almshouses.

  • Minor matters, such as small maintenance items, should be referred to the Warden when they arise. They should be attended to as set out in the Trust’s maintenance policy.   If not, please write to the Property Service Manager and then the Chief Executive
  • If the Warden is unable to resolve minor matters or if there is a persistent problem with loud noise or matters affecting health and safety, the resident should refer this to the Housing Manager. In the absence of the Housing Manager please contact the Chief Executive. You should be prepared to put your complaint in writing at this stage.   The Trustees wish to emphasise that all communications about complaints will be treated as confidential
  • If the Chief Executive is unable to deal satisfactorily with your complaint, or if you have a complaint about staff employed by the Trust, other residents or a serious breach of health and safety regulations for instance, you have the right to put your complaint in writing to the Chairman, with a formal request for it to be considered by the Trustees at their next meeting. You will, if you wish to exercise that right, be entitled to attend when your complaint is being discussed, accompanied by a friend or professional advisor
  • Trustees will write to the resident to advise of the action taken to resolve the complaint and to notify the decision made.

How a complaint can be made

We want to make our complaints process as easy to access and understand as possible.

We therefore provide several ways for residents to make a complaint:

  • Email using info@thorngate.org.uk (available for use 24/7)
  • Telephone by calling 023 92534999 (apart from bank holidays, available weekdays 9am – 5pm, voicemail facility out of hours)
  • In person, speaking to a warden on site
  • In writing to the Administration office at 10 Clare House
  • In person by visiting the Administration office, 10 Clare House, Melrose Gardens, Gosport PO12 3BZ (apart from bank holidays, available weekdays 9am – 5pm)

 

A resident may make a service request (pre-complaint) initially; if they are dissatisfied with the response or action, they may choose to escalate this to a complaint.

There are three stages to our complaint’s procedure:

  • Stage 1: it is usually best to speak to your warden first. If complaint is about a warden, you should contact the office at Clare House
  • Stage 2: if your complaint cannot be resolved at Stage 1, you can ask for it to be considered by the Chief Executive.
  • Stage 3: if your complaint cannot be resolved at stage 2, you can ask for it to be considered by the Trustees.

The Trust is a Registered Provider (social landlord), and if you are dissatisfied with the decision of the Trustees, you have the right to take your complaint to The Independent Housing Ombudsman or a “Designated Person”. The Housing Ombudsman’s address is Housing Ombudsman Service, 81 Aldwych, London. WC2B 4HN.  Telephone: 0300 111 3000   email: info@housing-ombudsman.org.uk and website www.housing-ombudsman.org.uk.  The Ombudsman will only investigate a complaint where the complainant has exhausted TCT’s Complaints procedure, although this must be done within 6 months. The complainant must be an TCT resident or an TCT applicant for housing to raise this with the Ombudsman.

Designated Persons were introduced by the Government to improve the chances of complaints about housing being resolved locally. The introduction of designated persons is intended to involve local politicians and local people in resolving local housing issues.

A designated person can be an MP, a local Councillor, or a Resident Panel (*) (see more information below) who can help resolve the complaint in one of two ways. They can try and resolve the complaint themselves or they can refer the complaint straight to the Ombudsman. If they refuse to do either, the resident can contact the Ombudsman directly.

If complaints to the Ombudsman are not referred by a designated person, there must be at least eight weeks from the end of the complaint process before the Ombudsman can consider the case. The law says that when the designated person refers a complaint to the Ombudsman, it must be in writing.

In summary, if a complaint is not resolved at the end of the complaint’s procedure, the resident can either refer the matter to a designated person or wait eight weeks and then refer the matter directly to the Ombudsman.

When the Ombudsman receives a complaint, they will ask if it has been referred to a designated person and if not, will ask the reasons for this. They will either then refer the matter to a designated person or if the resident is clear that they do not want to make use of that opportunity for local resolution, (if it is more than eight weeks from the end of the landlord’s complaint process) the Ombudsman will consider the case.

When writing to the Ombudsman or the Designated Person please state your full name and address, telephone number (if any) and set out the details of the complaint.

For Gosport, please contact your local Councillor at Gosport Borough Council or MP.

Resident Panels (*)

The designated Resident Panel is a new type of body with a specific function in the complaint process. It can help to resolve the complaint in two ways; it can try to resolve the complaint itself or it can refer the complaint direct to the Ombudsman. The Resident Panel can try to put things right in whichever way it thinks will work best. This could be, for example, by acting as an advocate for the complainant, by giving advice, providing a review of the way the complaint has been handled or being more proactive and suggesting a solution. If the complaint is not resolved by the Resident’s Panel, it can refer the complaint to the Housing Ombudsman Service. The law says that this referral must be in writing.

If they wish, residents of the charity can set up a Residents’ Panel with the support of the charity. Panels must be registered with the Ombudsman. It is the charity’s responsibility to register a panel with the Ombudsman once it has been recognised and to inform the Ombudsman of any subsequent changes. This will help the Ombudsman identify whether a complaint is referred by a designated Residents’ Panel. (Thorngate does not currently have a designated Residents Panel.)

Information about what kind of complaints the Housing Ombudsman deals with is available on their website. If you need help to access the website, please ask your warden who will help you access the information online.

  

APPLICANTS FOR HOUSING

Background

If you are an applicant and you believe you have not been treated fairly during the application process, you can ask for your case to be reviewed.

Process

Applications and subsequent allocations are dealt with via our Allocations Policy. The final decision on allocation is made by trustees guided by this policy based on an assessment made by the Housing and Support Manager.

If you think the assessment is incorrect or you believe there has been some other unfairness in your case, you can request a review. The process is as follows:

  1. A formal request in writing for a review is submitted to the Chief Executive at Clare House, Melrose Gardens, Gosport, Hampshire PO12 3BZ. The request should give specific details of the reasons why you feel the process has been unfair.
  2. The Chief Executive will acknowledge your correspondence within 10 days.
  3. The Chief Executive will carry out a review and investigation of the specific grievance relating to your application and refer the matter to two trustees who were not involved in the original decision.
  4. The decision of these reviewing trustees will be final, and no further review will be carried out.

 

MEMBERS OF STAFF

Members of staff who have a complaint or grievance should follow the Grievance Procedure outlined in the Employee Handbook.

Practical Application of this Policy which must be followed to demonstrate compliance and avoid issues if matters later referred to the Housing Ombudsman

  1. On receipt of a written complaint, or a complaint which given the vulnerability of the resident equates to a written complaint, the senior manager (CEO/Registered Manager/Housing Manager) MUST respond within 24 hours or next working day if over a weekend/bank holiday and ideally the same day acknowledging the complaint. This should be on headed paper and in letter form even if the original matter was by email or verbally made. This acknowledgement letter must indicate that the complaint will be responded to WITHIN 10 WORKING DAYS. It should also give an expectation as to whether the manager thinks the complaint will be concluded in 10 days. Often if a member of staff is involved and disciplinary proceedings may be necessary the manager should make it clear that the matter while investigated in 10 days may not be resolvable in 10 days.
  2. A new file must be set up for each complaint both paper and electronic.
  3. The manager should make a diary note of when 10 days will expire.
  4. Before or on 10-day deadline the manager MUST write to the resident on headed paper in letter form explaining the outcome of the initial investigation. If the matter has been concluded that can be communicated with any outcomes. If the matter has not been concluded the manager should clearly state, the further time required to conclude the matter if known and make a further diary note to ensure this deadline does not pass without notifying the resident.
  5. The complaint stays open until all actions are concluded and this is communicated to the resident.
  6. At all points during the process when the resident is written to managers should indicate that if residents are dissatisfied with the resolution of their complaint, they should be aware they can refer the matter to the manager’s line manager, normally the Chief Executive, or in the case of the Chief Executive, the Chairman of trustees. Sample Letters attached.

Confidentiality

All complaints are treated with confidentiality and are in line with the Data Protection Act 2018.

Equalities statement

All complainants will be treated with fairness and respect, It is our aim that there shall be equal opportunities in this organisation.  There will be no discrimination because of or related to the protected characteristics of sex, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, disability, pregnancy, or maternity, being married or a civil partner, age, race (including colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins), religion or belief.

To understand and resolve the complaint we will take the individual’s needs and preferences into account and we will offer support or adapt our approach as appropriate.

No, Thorngate Churcher Trust maintains its own waiting list distinct from those of GBC, or Hampshire County Council Adult Services.

No, the Trust does not expect to provide second homes and therefore expects any property to be sold, and not rented out or made available to relatives.

It is extremely difficult for the timings of the sale and the Trust licence to match exactly. The Trust therefore accepts the need for some flexibility around the sale of houses and considers that it would be reasonable to expect you to have sold your house within 12 months of accepting a Licence with the Trust. Consequently, you will be invited to confirm on a regular basis the status of the sale of your house during the 12 month period.

Upon receipt of an application form the application will be assessed on a priority banding system, which is broadly based on your current living situation and the Trust’s ability to appropriately, safely and constructively support you in one of our schemes.

The Housing and Support manager will contact you either by phone or in writing to arrange an assessment when nearing the top of the waiting list.

Once the assessment has taken place recommendations are made to the Trustees and they then ascertain whether you are acceptable within the terms of the Trust’s constitution. If you have been assessed as suitable and there are currently no voids you will be informed that you have been put on the waiting list until a void is identified.

If the Trust is unable to meet your needs, you will be informed stating the reasons. You must contact the Housing and Support Manager if your needs significantly change or you decide you no longer wish stay on our waiting list.

Yes, the Housing and Support Manager will discuss possible placement and viewing with you.

You will be made three offers of accommodation. If three flats are turned down you will be removed from the waiting list. If you would like to reapply, request in writing to Housing Manager/CEO to reconsider. If you refused the offer, you must tell us the exact reasons for refusing and whether you wish to stay on the waiting list.

Unless there are exceptional circumstances, the Trustees would not consider an application for sheltered housing from an individual whose resources exceed £200,000.

As well as the applicant(s) capital/assets the Trust will also take into account their actual income level i.e. state pension, private pension, investment income, wages etc.).

Single Applicant £1610 a month

Couple Applicant £2300 a month

Yes

Melrose Gardens, off Station Road, PO12 3BZ

Elizabeth Court, Camden Street, PO12 3JB

Thorngate Court, Inverness Road, PO12 3HX

There are different sized flats, they are either classed as a single or double which means that the bedroom is small for a single person or large enough to fit a double/king sized bed or two single beds. All flats have a bedroom, lounge (various sizes), bathroom with walk in shower and kitchen (most flats have separate kitchen and of various sizes)

No, all our flats are one bedroom.

The Trust provides fridge freezer, electric cooker and laundry room. You can bring your own fridge freezer and electric cooker, but you must notify the Trust. It is the residents’ responsibility to carpet the flat, provide furniture and curtains etc

Yes, but a couple will take priority for a double flat unless the need of a single occupant is deemed greater.

Thorngate Court – Band B

Melrose Gardens – Band A

Elizabeth Court – Band A and Band B

We call the housing charges weekly maintenance contributions (WMC) and not rent because you will not be a tenant.

No, we don’t have the facility to set up direct debits, we prefer you pay by standing order.

Central heating and hot water (most flats)

Water and sewage charges (most flats)

Repairs and maintenance

The support service (wardens, Careline and emergency call system)

Staff costs

Buildings and contents insurance

Upkeep of the gardens

Cleaning of communal areas

Cleaning of the outside of the windows of your flat

Electricity bills for your flat

Council tax

Your own private telephone line, cable tv and own internet

If you want a higher level contents insurance than the level we provide

Mobility scooter insurance

Any extra help you may need to help you live independently such as a  private cleaner or carer

Yes, credit meters are installed in each flat.

The Trust has a dedicated maintenance team who will redecorate the flat before you move in.

Dogs and cats are not allowed, we will normally give permission for you to keep a small caged bird inside your flat, but you must ask in advance.

No, but there are limited car parking spaces for residents and visitors.

We provide areas for charging and storage of scooters, but spaces are limited so you must inform the Housing and Support Manager if you have a scooter. Scooters must be insured by residents and we will need to see your insurance documents each year.

We provide communal lounges, laundry room, guest rooms (small charge) for relatives or friends visiting you for a short period, gardens where there are areas where residents can do some gardening themselves if they so wish and emergency call system.

Care home questions

Many families worry about funding the care of their loved ones. Being a charity helps us keep our private fees reasonable.

Our care home, Russell Churcher Court, currently accommodates privately funded and local authority funded residents, although the local authority may not meet the full cost of care and if this is the case family members or friends may top this up.

Our key facts document contains all of the latest information.

We provide care for people who are responsible for funding their own care and for those who require support from the local authority such as Hampshire County Council, or from a Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

Residents who have been assessed and accepted for funding by Hampshire County Council undergo an individual financial assessment conducted by Hampshire Adult Social Services, and the level agreed is dependent upon a number of factors including available savings and pensions. If Hampshire County Council will not support the full cost of care then this does not mean prospective residents need to go elsewhere but it does mean that the balance will needed to be “topped up” by a family member or friend. (Please note this also applies to the 12 week disregard or local authority loan residents because they are likely to have the necessary assets).

The fees cover accommodation in our large en-suite rooms, all care, meals and laundry service together with heating and lighting and most activities.

Extra costs are services such as optician, hairdresser or podiatry together with external visits, toiletries, cable TV/broadband and transport to hospital appointments.

Yes of course. We encourage all our residents to furnish their rooms with their own furniture and belongings to help  ease the transition from their old home to their new one.

Yes we do. We have guest rooms in our housing schemes which are available to book for those travelling longer distances.

Yes, we have a dedicated activities team which is proactive in organising activities that guests love in the home and also, where possible, external visits.

Activities range from crafts to quizzes, music events, visits from local entertainers and there is always a full programme of events at Christmas.

We are required to provide safe levels of staffing for our residents. We go above

and beyond this. Full details are in our key facts document.

A complaint can be made by telephone; in writing; by email; or in person. The Trust will respond in writing, usually via email.

Complaints should be addressed to:

Fiona Taylor, Registered Manager, Russell Churcher Court, Melrose Gardens, Gosport PO12 3BE

Telephone 023 9252 7600

Email info@thorngate.org.uk

Complainants will receive an acknowledgement within 72 hours. In this acknowledgment we will let the complainant know who will be investigating the complaint.

A complaint must be made no longer than 12 months after the date of an incident, or when the matter first came to the attention of the complainant.

This time limit however, will not apply if Russell Churcher Court is satisfied that:

The complainant can give a good reason for not making the complaint within that time limit and Despite the delay, it is still possible to investigate the complaint effectively and fairly

Where possible, complaints should be made on the form available from reception, the Registered

Manager or on the noticeboard. Complaints may also be made via our on-line feedback system, available at reception or via our website at https://thorngate.org.uk/complaint-form/

Anonymous complaints

The Trust takes anonymous complaints seriously and will investigate in the same way as other complaints providing enough information is supplied to facilitate an investigation. All complaints will be dealt with by a senior person within the organisation, usually the Registered Manager, or Deputy Manager.

Complainants will receive (as far as reasonably practical):

Assistance to help them understand the complaints procedure; and Advice on where they may obtain such assistance.

The Russell Churcher Court notice board displays a list of advocacy services, with contact details, or these may be obtained from the receptionist.

Russell Churcher Court will accept complaints from a third party under certain circumstances: Either:

Where you know that the Service User has consented, either verbally or in writing; or

where the Service User cannot complain unaided and cannot give consent because they lack capacity to do so within the meaning of the Mental Capacity Act 2005; and

The Service User representative is acting in the Service User’s best interests – for example, where the matter complained about, if true, would be detrimental to the Service User.

Our expected turnaround/resolution time is 28 days or less, and this will be advised in our initial response to the complaint.

All complaint investigations should be completed within six months unless a different timescale has been agreed. This should only be done when there is a good reason for it.

If, after you have received a response from the Registered Manager, you consider the complaint has not been resolved to your satisfaction, you may refer the matter to the Chief Executive. The Chief Executive’s details are:

Anne Taylor FCCA, Chief Executive, Thorngate Churcher Trust, Clare House, Melrose Gardens, Gosport PO12 3BZ

Once your complaint has been fully dealt with by Russell Churcher Court, and the Trust, should you remain dissatisfied with the outcome you can complain to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman. The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman provides a free, independent service. You can contact the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman Advice Team for information and advice, or to register your complaint:

Telephone 0300 061 0614 Email advice@lgo.org.uk

Website www.lgo.org.uk

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman will not usually investigate a complaint until the provider has had an opportunity to respond and resolve matters.

Our service is registered with, and regulated by, the Care Quality Commission (CQC). The CQC cannot get involved in individual complaints about providers, but is happy to receive information about our services at any time. You can contact the CQC at:

Care Quality Commission National Correspondence Citygate,  Gallowgate Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 4PA

Or you can use the online form via their website at www.cqc.org.uk

Telephone 0300 061 6161

Mark Child

At Thorngate we are saddened to announce that our chief information officer Mark Child has died.