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Being an aged care provider means navigating a complex web of legislation, rules and regulations and a reform agenda that incorporates 5 pillars over 5 years. But let’s not lose sight of the most important factor across each of these pillars … the consumer.

Every person, process, policy and structure in your organisation has an impact on your consumers. It’s not just a marketing function or your consumer experience manager’s responsibility (if you’re lucky enough to have one). It’s a combination of nine key business and operation elements that when aligned will help to ensure you support your consumers and their families to have a positive aged care experience . 

The nine keys ingredients to a good consumer experience are;

  1. People 
  2. Systems 
  3. Processes
  4. Structure
  5. Measures
  6. Brand promise 
  7. Strategy
  8. Culture
  9. Leadership

People – workforce capacity and capability is challenging compounded by Covid and burnout, so your recruitment strategy, onboarding process, position descriptions, roster management and performance management are vital to ensuring you have the right people in place that live by the values and the culture you are driving. If you don’t get this right your consumers will be the ones to be impacted first and foremost. 

Systems and Processes go together, for every system or platform be that technology based or paper based a process needs to be clearly articulated and fully understood by the organisation. 

Utilisation of these systems is also key. You can implement a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) platform, an online care management platform, an online medication management system or clinical handover but if your team does not understand why and the importance of following the policy and process your consumers will ultimately be the ones to potentially have a bad experience. 

Structure – In most aspects of life structure is important. In aged care a clear structure will provide guidance to all your employees by laying out the official reporting relationships that govern the workflow of your home or homes. 

Often we see feedback and complaints about communication and consumers not knowing who to contact or staff unsure of who to escalate an issue to. A delegation schedule is a very simple way to ensure you have the structure needed to manage and exceed consumer expectations. 

Measures – The ACQSC (Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission) home visits focus heavily on talking to your consumers about their experiences which they use as one of the measures in determining your compliance to the aged care standards. 

Conducting regular internal consumer experience surveys and holding regular resident and representative meetings are minimum best practices across the sector. But it’s how you use the data and insights to inform the organisational strategy and the plan for continuous improvement that’s the key. If you don’t want surprises then implement an open line of constructive communication with your consumers (and staff).

Brand Promise – Having a brand promise in essence is having one common goal that your team understands and lives by professionally. For your consumer a brand promise is a commitment you make and strive to consistently deliver on. Everyone in the organisation needs to be aware of what it is, what it means and why it is important. 

For us at Anchor Excellence as an example our promise is to:

  1. Live by our values which are to be Authentic, Nimble, Collaborative, Honest, Outcome focused and Responsive and,
  2. Through the work we do with aged care leaders to leave a legacy of improved and sustained capability

If you’re not sure who knows and understands your promise and values it’s a great agenda item for your next staff meeting.. If you have less than 70% responding you may need to hold an education session and review your onboarding manual. 

If you want to take it a step further and be really brave you could raise it at your resident and relative meeting to see if the promise and values resonate. 

Strategy – Having a clearly defined strategy or balanced scorecard is like having a blueprint or map. It gives direction, purpose and lens to the whole organisation. The strategies you have will support every individual from losing sight of the home or home’s objectives. The four key pillars to consider are consumer perspective, learning and growth, Internal perspective and financial. All will impact the consumer experience if not achieved in alignment. 

Leadership and culture go hand in hand – creating and fostering a culture comes from the leadership in any organisation and good culture like bad permeates through from the top down. Whilst your team are in uniform, wearing their name badges and being on time for their shift it’s their behaviour and actions while on shift that affect your consumers experience. 

The ability to create a positive and nurturing culture is the DNA necessary for leaders to succeed. But it’s the failure to explain how the team can authentically integrate it into the day to day so it can be consistently delivered at every touch point. This is what can make or break a consumer experience. 

In summary 

All the key areas above can impact your consumers’ experiences from people, process and systems not being followed, the structure in place not supporting the home through to the values, promise understood and culture and leadership being fragmented. All need to be working together simultaneously to ensure our aged care consumers have the best possible experience.

Claire Ward

Aged Services, Compliance Remediation & Consumer Experience Specialist

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