March home is pioneering customer feedback technology to improve residents’ experiences

Heron House resident gets to grips with new technology

Heron House resident gets to grips with new technology - Credit: Archant

A March care home 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.

At Heron House Care Home purpose designed software systems are accessed via iPads available in the home, so at any time people living in the home, their families and visiting health professionals can use the touch screen programme to say what they think about any aspect of care. It is easy and convenient and takes just a couple of minutes to provide feedback.

Heron House is operated by Four Seasons Health Care, the UK’s largest independent care provider, and the home is participating in its unique “Quality of Life Programme.”

Last year it put a temporary embargo on new residents because of a raft of issues and complaints raised by relatives and a poor inspection report.

Since then a shake-up in management and recruitment of new permanent staff to replace the high number of agency carers has taken place and an inspection earlier this year found the home was good in three out of the five areas looked at. But still needed some improvement.

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Sam Jacob, regional managing director, 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 quality of life. We welcome comments about how well we are meeting residents’ care needs or detailed comments, for instance, about menu choices or activities and entertainments.”

The iPads are programmed with a touch screen satisfaction questionnaire together with space for additional comment. The information is transmitted in real time to managers to find and fix any care issues or consider suggestions for improvements.

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Mrs Jacob said: “The care sector has traditionally relied on paper-based surveys, perhaps no more than annually and with limited participation and a slow turnaround. By contrast we get immediate feedback day to day. In just over three months of our Quality of Life Programme roll- out to just the first 100 homes, including Heron House 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 around 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 a few minutes later 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 reflected residents’ preferences.

Comments from residents, relatives and care professionals link to care audits completed electronically by home managers and this data gives a 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.

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