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Four Seasons Pioneers Customer Feedback Technology To Improve Residents’ Experiences

Four Seasons Health Care is pioneering the use of technology to collect immediate feedback about care so it can find and fix issues quickly and give residents the experience they want.

Its new “Quality of Life Programme” is unique amongst major care providers. Purpose designed software systems are accessed via iPads that are being put into all of its 350 homes, so at any time residents, their families and visiting health professionals can tell the company what they think about any aspect of the services they receive.

The iPads are programmed with a touch screen satisfaction questionnaire together with space for additional comment. It is easy and convenient and takes just a couple of minutes to provide feedback. The information is transmitted in real time to the Home Manager and Regional Manager for immediate review to find and fix any issues or consider suggestions for improvements.  Each home will have an iPad on a stand in reception for use by visitors and another that is available to residents and staff.

Tim Hammond, Chief Executive, said: “Being able to understand our residents’ experience on a day to day basis enables us to fix any niggles quickly and to do more of what they like, so they feel more at home and enjoy a better experience living with us.

“In the restaurant sector, where I previously worked, they drive standards by getting regular live feedback from customers. But in the care sector all that we have had traditionally is a paper survey, perhaps no more than annually and with limited participation and a slow turnaround. It is not a good way to understand and respond to the needs of residents and relatives. By contrast in just over three months of our programme roll- out to just the first 100 homes, we have acted on comments from well over 1,000 residents. I am encouraged that we also have been consistently recording satisfaction ratings from residents averaging circa 94% and we will work to push this higher, helped by the insights provided by their feedback.”

One practical example is that a resident’s daughter took a few minutes at the end of a visit to key a comment about her mother’s bed sheets. When the Home Manager saw this she checked and found something had been spilled. By the time the daughter arrived home there was an email message waiting for her to say the sheets had been changed. Another example came from a cluster of homes where the Regional Manager picked up feedback that the menus could be more varied so he arranged a senior chef to work with the homes to develop new menus offering more choices that better reflected residents’ preferences.

As a further element of its Quality of Life Programme Four Seasons has introduced a new Thematic Resident Care Audit (“TRaCA”) which Home Managers can complete electronically. This is also designed to support the “find and fix” approach. Comments from residents, relatives and care professionals link into the TRaCA and this data gives a more rounded picture of care provision that can be seen at all levels from the residents’ bedrooms to the boardroom, to help drive improvements within a home or across a region or nationally.

Completing the picture, Four Seasons is listening to staff comments via the iPads. Tim Hammond said: “To have a happy care home we need its staff to be happy and so gathering and responding to feedback from our colleagues is just as important.”

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