Quality of care is a serious issue for people who need to move into aged care, it is a necessity that each older person deserves.

Judy Greguke, National Manager of Aged Care Reform from COTA, spoke at the Quality in Aged Care conference about a recent research they did looking into “quality of care” and “customer experience”.

In a survey of aged care consumers, the two most common responses to what was considered important in terms of the “quality of care” offered was “staff attitudes and skills” and “reliable and consistent staff”.

This was followed by showing respect for older people and their allies – such as spouses, children, friends and extended family.

Communication was also important to residents and their loved one – they say that it’s essential that there is an open channel of communication between management, staff and the residents.

A smaller, but still significant, amount of respondents believe that quality of care comes from supporting independence of the residents.

For some people, quality of care does not make a difference to the care recipient, but it is still important.

An anonymous participant from the Brisbane Focus Group said;

“It wouldn’t have mattered how much care she got, her quality of life wasn’t going to be made higher because she was already on a dysfunctional level. She didn’t enjoy much. She didn’t even know my name. She didn’t recognize me. So, that’s why I say quality of care to me is great.”

Another participant said;

For me, the quality of life is most important for both because I think that if the quality of life is good in terms of the kind of support that you’re getting, and the individual person feels that they have some control over their life, and their life is lived to the quality that they expect in their life, I would assume, maybe wrongly, that it would include care.”

Measuring the Consumer’s Experience

When measuring consumer experience, people want to see metrics, but also want commentary to analyse/align with their own values.

Understanding the consumer’s experience is seen as important in order to understand a number of elements about the provider.

One Provider explained what lengths they go to understand their “customer experience”;

“We have a Director, Consumer Engagement to assist consumer engagement program delivery. We measure satisfaction, Net promoter score, complaints and compliments and perform random spot checks of telephone calls through service areas and central support centre. We are currently developing our organisational approach to innovation and human centred design.”

People who have no experience of aged care, rely on others for their opinions and thoughts on certain facilities.

The top ways consumers want to hear from others are from word of mouth from friends and family, generally “views of people who have used that service’ and reading online reviews from older people, friends or family.

But how do people make choices? Generally, comparisons for residential aged care starts with site visits.

And for home care, respondents were saying that the My Aged Care portal does not have enough to facilitate choice.

“The project findings support continues use of quality indicators with major increased emphasis on quality of life and consumer experience,” says Judy.

“Aged care sustainability depends on successfully recruiting new resident and staff alike. At the end of the day, these consumers are people that we know and love.”

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