A photograph of Tim Hammond

A message from Tim Hammond, Chief Executive at Four Seasons.

For a care provider such as Four Seasons the most important measure of our performance is the well-being and satisfaction of our residents and the peace of mind of their relatives. Our most important asset is the skill, commitment, kindness and compassion of our care teams. Only people have those attributes, but innovative IT is changing the way we provide care, helping our teams to make a difference to our residents.

To ensure that our homes are giving each of our residents the type of care they want and to give them a better experience of life in the home, we need their feedback. This can include what they think we are doing well, their likes/dislikes, any improvements we can make and whether they're happy. The way we do this is by asking and listening to them on a daily basis via pioneering technology that is unique to our homes.

We call it our 'Quality of Life Programme' (QoL). Residents, their families and visiting health care professionals can use iPads, available in the homes, to complete satisfaction questionnaires, that are linked to purpose-designed software systems, telling us their opinions about any aspect of their care. The information is transmitted in real time to the Home Manager and Regional Manager encouraging a find and fix approach enabling niggles to be fixed when they're reported.

QoL has enabled us to collect over 110,000 pieces of feedback in 12 months. The changes implemented as a result have led to our customer satisfaction levels averaging over 97%, based on responses of around 60,000 residents, relatives and care professionals.

This led to Four Seasons being winner of the Overall Best Customer Experience in the UK Customer Experience Awards 2016, beating over 750 companies across all sectors of industry and commerce. It is the first time a care provider has won this award.

IT is also supporting a radically different approach of our new generation of dementia care - the Dementia Care Framework. It builds on established best practice and uses an IT system to support care teams to maintain and audit each resident's physical, psychological and emotional condition, their mood and day to day experience, so that care can be adjusted to their changing needs.

At its heart is a resident care audit which specifically monitors people with dementia. Information about the person is updated electronically by the care team, and is based on 320 recognised standards, including NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) guidelines and Alzheimer's Society best practice guidance. We believe it is the first of its type anywhere in the world. The system is very supportive of care teams. For instance, when someone's height or weight is measured, it will automatically calculate their Body Mass Index and if this has changed significantly it will prompt the nurse to consult with the dietician or the GP. This prompt remains on the system until it's confirmed that the consultation has taken place and the recommendations acted on.

As I said at the outset, care is about people and understanding their experiences. For this reason, our training for all colleagues in our homes includes giving them a simulation of what it is like to live with dementia, experiencing the sensory and cognitive impairments, the frustrations and the emotional effects that may follow. This intensely human experience gives care teams an understanding of the condition and an insight into what it's like living with dementia. Learning best practice then becomes more meaningful and real.

So, the technology doesn't substitute for or diminish the human element of care. Rather it helps teams provide care that is more personalised and responsive the physical and emotional needs, preferences and wishes of each person. It helps colleagues move beyond the traditional view of what constitutes good care to an additional focus on customer service and giving people special experiences.