Aged Care in the firing line again

I become very concerned when reports come out that are obviously politically driven.  The sad facts are a public forum attracts mainly dissatisfied people.  Somehow the satisfied become voiceless.

However there is a point amongst all this.  Training is the key.  Training just to meet an audit or a requirement is a waste of time and money.  It has to be relevant and inspiring.

Unfortunately with bed occupancies always a constant concern. Even one empty bed has a significant impact on the bottom line but to cut essentials like training and staff numbers will have a further impact on the bottom line in the delivery of care. 

Don’t get me wrong.  I do understand that cuts backs have to be made on things that will make an immediate impact.  Staff wages and training come into this category.

The danger here is these savings attempts can have a significant effect on the standard of care.  It is when bad habits slip in. 

The homes that I see thriving are those who have a robust training programme in place because well trained staff show.  They are more motivated and make less mistakes and people feel confident about placing loved ones in their care.

For any business to thrive customer satisfaction is essential.  Referrals are the best source of marketing.  So what are the things that I believe will make people refer your facility to others.

  • First impressions – is it clean, smells nice and residents appear happy and active
  • The interview – did they feel they were placing their loved one in a home or a business i.e. is the Manager or who ever does the interview warm, friendly, honest and trustworthy.  The initial interview is really important for if you don’t fulfill the persons expectation on this visit not only will you lose a potential client, you not be referred to others either.
  • Do you take the time to find out about the potential client and the significant other.  Do they feel that both will have their needs met or is the potential client just another number.
  • And when they come in, do you follow through with what you said you would do.  For example:  I heard recently how a respite client had all her needs met on her 2 weekly stay.  She thought it was great and decided to come back as a permanent resident.  On her admission interview she was told that now she was a permanent resident she would not be able to have the same treatment she had when in on respite!  How do you think the person and her family felt?  Too late to change their mind then.  I bet they wanted to run but didn’t feel they could as they had made this very difficult decision.  Would they recommend the place to others?
  • Remind the staff constantly that it is the residents home not theirs. The building may be owned by a business but none of the owners live in it 24 hours a day.  The manager and all the staff go to their own homes too.  When a resident wants a cup of tea, make it for them.  Staff get themselves a cup of tea or something to eat when they want to. It should be the same for residents.

While I understand the books have to balance, you must also never forget that people live for the rest of their lives.  Some rarely get out of the facility.  How would you feel if you

  • Couldn’t have a cuppa when you want
  • Couldn’t  get to the kitchen to make a sandwich or have a biscuit and told to wait till the next meal or refreshment break.
  • Couldn’t have your meal in your room if you wanted and had to sit with so many  other people
  • Couldn’t shower when you wanted – had to wait in line till it was your turn

I know that a routine has to be in place. Many people are very happy to have a regimented environment but just as many are too afraid to say to your face they are not happy.  Remember when people complain it is rarely about the big things.  It is all the little things.  Their unmet needs and expectations.

So if you want to keep you occupancy high, and there are many places that do, look to see what you can do for the client and their families, not Yipee another bed filled.  Look to the people who are doing well in the industry and see what you are not.  The answer will be glaringly obvious if you go to look for it. 

Business is about filling an unmet need.  Are you filling the unmet needs and expectations of your clients/residents? 
Only you can answer that.


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