Senior living communities serve the critical purpose of helping elder residents stay as independent as possible while getting the assistance they need for daily tasks. It’s a delicate balancing act. In the U.S., over 1.3 million people over the age of 65 live in one of these communities. The facility is their home, and staff members strive to provide the best possible quality of life for each resident. As in any industry, it’s important to collect feedback to ensure that we are not missing the mark. It sounds easy enough. In fact you may have residents who are very comfortable regularly providing input and advice. But that is not the case for everyone. Some residents may be resistant to providing opinions, or responses may be filtered and incomplete. Without this information, however, it can be difficult to get a complete picture of overall satisfaction from residents.
Obtaining elder resident feedback is a valuable tool for:
- Improving their quality of care
- Eliminating preventable medical emergencies
- Improving satisfaction within the facility
Formal surveys may be ineffective in these communities. Instead, try these tips to help routinely request feedback from elder residents.
Use Conversations as a Tool to Collect Elder Resident Feedback
When collecting feedback, you might immediately think about creating a survey. But all too often, a formal survey can lead to canned responses that provide limited insight. Instead, consider the usefulness of simple conversation. When a familiar staff member inquires about the quality of special foods, enjoyable activities during the day, and how a resident is feeling, valuable feedback can be gathered to determine if there is any room for improvement.
Many residents enjoy having amicable relationships with staff members and will open up when provided the opportunity. Instead of using questionnaires periodically, encouraging staff members to ask questions during their visits can provide valuable feedback about gaps in care or other areas of dissatisfaction. Adding a checklist to a daily or weekly paperwork can remind staff members to initiate these important conversations. When residents are given regular opportunities to share their feelings about their daily life, staff members are more likely to learn where minor changes could create major improvements.
Ask Targeted Questions
If someone asks you if you like living at your home, you’d probably say yes. But as much as you love your home, there would likely be some things you would want to change. Instead of simply asking residents if they enjoy living in the community, create a list of specific topics to bring up naturally in conversation. Factors that impact their quality of life can range from call response time to enjoying a favorite meal. Use these examples to initiate simple conversations that fit your residents and community:
- Daily Life: Have you interacted with your friends here today? What activities do you enjoy here? When was the last time you got to go outside?
- Health Care: How are you feeling today? Do you have any issues you’re concerned about? Do our nurses and other staff members respond quickly when you call?
- Diet: What did you have to eat today? Did you like it? What’s the best thing we serve here? What’s the worst thing we serve here? What do you wish we could add to the menu?
- General Satisfaction: What’s your favorite thing about our community? What do you like the least about staying here? Do you like your apartment? How could we improve it?
Create a Resident Council
There always residents who are more comfortable sharing their opinions than other. These advocates have deep relationships with others throughout the community and can be a great resource for more detailed feedback. Resident councils are becoming more and more frequent in eldercare communities. They are a great way to solicit feedback from influential members of the community and they help to get elders more directly involved in their care. These groups can be helpful for planning events, as well as providing general feedback and advice. They can also be a useful means to share information throughout the community. If you are looking for a more direct and structured way to gather information directly from the residents, a resident council could be the answer.
Involve Family Members
Family members and other visitors are a great resource for deeper insight into any thoughts or concerns regarding overall care. The purpose of surveying residents isn’t to receive 5-star reviews. The goal is to use feedback to improve the quality of life in the community. With this goal in mind, family members can become natural advocates to help lead to positive changes. Whether residents enjoy face-to-face visits or telephone conversations with their loved ones, their families and friends have insights your staff might not. Talking to them can be a valuable opportunity to gather information about residents’ needs and opinions.
Start Incorporating Elder Resident Feedback Into Your Business Processes
Feedback is an essential part of growth and improvement in any business. However, it’s particularly important in senior care facilities where residents may feel their opinions go unheard. When feedback is honest and complete, it can provide valuable sources of information that allow you to keep a consistent measure of the quality of care within your establishment. Browse our blog to learn more about the ways you can improve the quality of care for both residents and staff members in your long-term care facility.