There are more than 500,000 care and nursing home places across the UK¹, and with the population of people over 65 set to increase dramatically, social care organisations are facing unknown pressures. In fact, by 2032 the number of over 85s in England is expected to increase by 106 percent² – and the number of older people with care needs is expected to rise by more than 60 per cent³. In recent years, the social care sector as a whole has been under scrutiny from the media and the general public and bad press around misconduct and debt has made demonstrating the quality of care services by reputable and responsible care home providers to potential clients and their families more difficult than ever.
In an era of unprecedented financial challenge and rising demand, it’s vital that care homes are able to evidence the quality of the care they provide. Conducting research is an effective way of gathering feedback – and survey results are a useful tool to help build a brand, maintain and build on reputation and attract new clients. There are several forms of research that produce both qualitative and quantitative data, from large-scale opinion panels to one-to-one interviews with an objective third party – but one of the easiest and most cost-effective methods is to conduct a satisfaction survey with service users and their families or friends.
Research in the Care sector – how to design an effective satisfaction survey
Although there are many principles of research that apply across all sectors, it is important to take into consideration the specific nuances of the care industry when conducting research. The services care homes provide have a direct effect on the quality of older peoples’ lives and the questions in any type of survey should acknowledge this. Organisations should include residents, relatives and friends, in order to gather a range of perspectives from all stakeholders; but it is important to remember that responding to a questionnaire may trigger a host of emotional reactions, both positive and negative, from respondents. Having a clear strategy in place to feedback on the results received is critical. There is no stronger message or assurance than “we listened – and we’re doing what you asked”.
Once you have an idea of the why you are condicting the survey, perhaps have a research strategy and clear purpose, there are a few things that may be helpful to bear in mind:
- Conducting research is of little value if you don’t act on the results. Before you begin, set clear objectives for what you want the survey to achieve and how you will analyse the results. Establish a process to measure responses and draw conclusions, then design the survey questions based on what you want to do with the information you receive.
- Short, regular surveys produce better response rates than lengthy questionnaires, and using a mixture of question types, such as yes/no questions; ratings from ‘very satisfied’ to ‘not satisfied at all’; and free text comment boxes ensures your respondents have the opportunity to share their opinions without taking up too much of their time.
- The Net Promoter Score can be a really useful tool to help you benchmark your service and demonstrate how the quality of care has improved over time, by calculating the percentage of your respondents that are ‘promoters’ (satisfied customers) of your care home and services.
- Carrying out a satisfaction survey can help you to build stronger relationships with your residents and their families, by making them feel that you are really listening to them. Make sure your survey is personalised, rather than taking a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Levels of personalisation can vary – from addressing your respondents by name to tailoring the questions they receive based on their individual circumstances – but even the simplest personalisation can help to let your customers know that you value their opinions and that their feedback will be taken seriously.
Improve standards of Care with research
At Carlton Kennedy we deliver a comprehensive research service to support care homes and other care related services to assess, demonstrate and improve the quality of care and services. Using an objective, experienced independent advisor led survey and project team to design, conduct and analyse your survey most often leads to more honest and enlightening responses, and can position you as a transparent, open and trusted service provider, as well as one that genuinely cares. Additionally, an independent experienced research and survey partner are able to make recommendations based on the results and insight gained to really help you improve and enhance your service and offering to one that customers really want, as well as identify some best practice and operational efficiencies in the process.
If you need help understanding what your customers need, think or want, in order to better shape your business and the value it offers as well as attract and retain more customers, get in touch for an initial chat about how we may be able to help firstname.lastname@example.org