Customer experience is key to the perception of quality in aged care.
When it comes to delivering services, providing ‘care’ would have to be one of the most broadly scoped mission statements that any business could have. And when you take into consideration the age and needs of a lot of aged care residents, it’s completely understandable why so many of the aged care providers in the past directed most of their attention to getting the basics right.
The aged care sector is currently in a period of transition. The changing expectations of older Australians and their family members are driving a shift towards a customer-first model, one that delivers value beyond high-quality clinical care.
In 2019, experience is everything, and businesses that have learned how to deliver services people value and in a way that creates a positive impression are the most likely to attract and retain customers – and the aged care sector is no different.
Consumers living in residential aged care homes experience many interactions with your organisation’s people and services every day. Every interaction shapes perception and levels of satisfaction, and understanding which of these experiences they value most and their thoughts on these experiences is the most effective way to drive positive change and improve quality in your organisation.
The environment within an aged care facility can change rapidly, requiring providers to periodically adjust and adapt to the needs of their consumers to meet expectations. The speed at which a provider can identify the need for change, and then implement improvements, is the key to ensuring that customer experiences remain positive.
Over 80% of people turn away from bad businesses due to poor customer experience, and an even higher percentage of people feel the need to warn others about their negative experiences. And we should be expecting to see similar behaviour in aged care.
With an on-going Royal Commission driving public discourse about aged care, people are increasingly speaking up on their aged care experiences. And for the those looking for aged care services, already tainted in their view by negative media, word of mouth from peers becomes increasingly important.
People want to know about the experiences of others with aged care services, and they want to know about the things that matter to them. Is the food good? Are the staff friendly? Do you feel safe there?
Consumers have more choices than ever regarding aged care services, and the extreme connectivity and access to information provided by the internet allow for the views of existing residents and clients to inform the decision making of consumers in the process of choosing an aged care service.
Research by The Quality Agency that utilised data from over 15,000 interviews in over 1,100 aged care services provided unprecedented insight into some of the essential areas of an aged care consumers experiences, yielding results that provided a clear indication of experiences that required improvement to increase quality.
Food has been a topic of conjecture in the aged care industry for a long time, and while many services pride themselves on the quality of their meal services, 16.03 per cent of respondents indicated that they only enjoy the food “some of the time” or “none of the time.”
Close to 20% of the respondents also felt as if they were unable, or unsure about their ability, to find someone to talk to in the event of feeling sad or worried about an issue.
Having access to this type of information is vital to gauge the perceived quality of the aged care industry as a whole, but having specific information regarding key areas of an individual facility or service is invaluable for continuous improvement around quality of life.
For aged care providers looking to lead the way in the changing market-based, consumer-driven aged care system, the day-to-day experiences of individual residents and clients can no longer be viewed separately from the clinical and personal care that they receive.