24 November 2015

Building a culture of quality care and meaningful relationships in aged care

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In the ever changing world of care provision, the crux of the aged care business cannot be forgotten and should in fact come to the fore; The delivery of quality care, and the building of core human relationships between care provider and care receiver.

Australian Ageing Agenda recently published an article about the importance of the relationship between the customer and the staff. When customers feel respected and valued by the staff who provide their care, they are more likely to find the emotional connection with an organisation, which consequently leads to better outcomes for both the customer and the organisation.

The regulatory environment is changing across this sector, giving the customer better choice and control over his/her care. The implementation of the Consumer Directed Care (CDC) model has long been in the works and implemented as of July 2015. Future reforms coming in 2017 expands this choice, giving customers not just control over their care packages, but also their choice of care provider.

In this new business environment, customers will only find value in the service provided and continue to be loyal to care providers if they find that their care is centred around meaningful relationships with their provider and if care providers genuinely, well, care!

But how do organisations ensure that their employees feel connected and engaged in their role and pass on this excellence to the customers they are caring for?

Dr John Fleming, the author of the best-selling business guide Human Sigma: Managing the Employee-Customer Encounter, recently spoke about customer and staff engagement in aged services. Here is a summary of some tips he offered to increase employee engagement and ensure that the services that actually reach the customers are of quality:

  • Managers should assist staff to feel like they are individually recognised, and are an important member of the team with room for growth. This will translate into employees feeling valued and consequently attaching value to what they do.
  • Organisations should think about how to measure staff and client satisfaction. Having a framework to do this will assist with identifying pain points and improve on these areas.
  • As an organisation, ensure that you embed in your staff the importance of delivering on promises to your customers. Do not provide false hope, even in the simple things like social gatherings or shopping trips.
  • Ensure you implement processes and tools to resolve customer problems in a fair manner, and that you communicate this effectively to and via your staff – do not just ignore the problem in the hopes that it will go away.
  • Determine your value proposition and what sets you apart in the market. This should be communicated effectively to your staff to ensure everyone identifies with these values. This is particularly important now that the sector is evolving from traditionally being not for profit to one that is business-focused.

Meaningful relationships between care provider and receiver need to be championed and embedded in the culture of all aged care providers. The recipe for this success is found in the combination of quality staff who find value in their work, and the organisation’s investment in their staff.

Su grew up dreaming of being a journalist, dodging bullets and gunfire with a camera thrust in front of her reporting from a war zone. Having realised that she is not really as agile as she thought, she has settled for dodging cockroaches in metropolitan Sydney as her adrenaline fix. Su is inquisitive and loves a good challenge, which is why she has chosen to produce conferences at Akolade. In her spare time, Su likes to read, drink green tea, and fantasise about making the world a better place; getting rid of the need for war journalists entirely.

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