A message from Tim Hammond, Chief Executive at Four Seasons.
How can we be sure that our care homes are giving our residents the experience they want? That is the question I asked on my first day with Four Seasons.
Our people take pride as a team of care professionals and work hard to provide a consistently high standard of care. We consult with the people living in our homes, their families and professionals to learn about the resident’s life, their care needs, their interests, likes and dislikes in order to develop personalised care plans. Then there is regulatory oversight of all care providers by the Care Quality Commission and their counterparts.
These approaches support health and wellbeing. But they don’t tell us that our residents are having the care experience they want. How can we be sure they are happy? The answer is to ask and listen to them on a day to day basis.
In the restaurant sector, where I worked previously, they drive standards by getting regular feedback from customers. But in the care sector all that has been used traditionally is a paper survey, perhaps no more than annually and with limited participation and a slow turnaround.
People filling in paper questionnaires tend to focus on big stuff and not the little things that are part of everyday life. Of course, if they are not happy they could complain to the manager at any time. But most people don’t like to complain about small things.
So, Four Seasons has been pioneering the use of technology to collect feedback that enables us to understand our residents’ day to day care experience, to find and fix any issues quickly and to understand what they like, and how we can best ensure they have an enjoyable time.
We call it our “Quality of Life Programme” and it is unique amongst major care providers. In just over three months of the roll-out to the first 100 homes, we received and acted on comments from well over 1,000 residents. I am encouraged that we have been recording satisfaction ratings averaging around 94% and we will work to push this higher, helped by the feedback we receive.
We are equipping all 350 of our homes with iPads complete with touch screen satisfaction questionnaires. This means that at any time residents, their families and visiting health professionals can tell the company what they think about any aspect of our care. The information is transmitted in real time to the Home Manager and Regional Manager who can immediately deal with any care issues or consider suggestions for improvements.
By innovating with IT, we have developed a convenient way for people to give us day to day feedback in an immediate way that has never happened before and we can act on it to give them the experience they want.