Guide to Improving Nursing Home Residents’ Satisfaction
The greater the satisfaction among the residents of your nursing home, the better a reputation you will have and the longer your waitlist will be. While improving resident satisfaction is easier said than done, it will greatly increase your residents’ quality of life and your business opportunities. Here are eight ideas for improving nursing home residents’ satisfaction:
Survey the residents to get their opinions.
If you’re serious about improving nursing home resident satisfaction, then you should survey those very residents to get their opinions. This survey will help you figure out what is and isn’t working and help you establish a baseline before you make any changes. If you have the bandwidth to do so, you may also find it helpful to survey past residents who have been discharged or left on their own accord to discover why they left and what you could have done to retain their business. Compile the survey results to identify trends and areas of improvement that your facility specifically needs to work on.
Make sure that you have enough staff.
Understaffing in nursing home facilities is associated with all kinds of negative outcomes: increased risk of falls, greater chances of pressure ulcers, longer wait times for toileting… the list goes on. Maintaining a full staff on all shifts is easier said than done, especially in today’s labor market, but it’s one of the most important factors in maintaining and improving nursing home resident satisfaction. If your facility is chronically understaffed and/or experiences a lot of turnover, hiring and retaining qualified workers should be your no. 1 priority when it comes to improving resident satisfaction.
Continually train staff.
Once your staff is hired, they need to be trained and retrained on how to properly do things. Even workers who have a lot of prior experience don’t know the specific policies and procedures at your facility, and they will need time and training to get caught up. Retraining sessions will help keep the knowledge fresh and give you an opportunity to communicate procedural updates to staff as you continue your initiative to improve resident satisfaction.
Reduce wait times whenever possible.
Sometimes, waiting is inevitable, but this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t make an effort to reduce it whenever possible. In fact, reducing wait times can have a big impact on improving resident satisfaction scores. We recommend first prioritizing wait times for essential activities such as eating, toileting, taking medication and moving bed-bound patients. Obviously, it’s annoying to residents to have to wait for their duster house dresses to be washed or for help putting on their diabetic shoes, but that has much less direct impact on their quality of life than having to wait to eat or use the toilet.
Explain what you’re doing.
Encourage your staff to verbally update residents when they need to move them or otherwise assist them with daily activities — even if the residents have memory care issues or otherwise don’t seem capable of understanding. Just the sound of the staff’s voice will help soothe the residents and keep them calm, even if they don’t fully comprehend what’s going on. For residents without memory care issues, giving them a verbal heads-up will allow them to prepare themselves for the activities and help them assist the caretaker if necessary. When possible, the staff should also engage the residents in dialogue to help keep their language skills sharp and work those areas of their brains.
Practice good communication.
Speaking of talking, good communication at all levels of your organization will increase resident satisfaction. You need to meet your residents where they’re at, so if many of them don’t have computers, don’t make a facility-wide announcement via email. Post physical flyers around the building instead. When it comes to nursing homes, over-communication is definitely better than under-communication for sure. Many older people don’t have the best memories, so you might need to follow up with them multiple times to ensure that they remember. Don’t treat them like children, but do be aware that you might need to explain things more simply or use different language than you would with another adult.
Keep the facility clean.
The cleanliness of the building itself also plays a big role in nursing home resident satisfaction. Even if the staff is very attentive, nobody wants to use a crusty toilet that hasn’t been cleaned or sleep in sheets that haven’t been washed. Having a clean and sanitary facility will help to keep both residents and staff healthy, increasing both satisfaction and safety. Reassess your cleaning protocols and communicate any updates to the janitorial staff. You should also inspect the kitchen and kitchen staff to make sure that all food safety standards are being followed. Older adults are even more vulnerable to foodborne illnesses due to their compromised immune systems. Not only will this increase resident satisfaction, it will also lower your risk of getting hit with a lawsuit.
Take care of their belongings.
Obviously, taking care of the residents themselves is the no. 1 priority of any nursing home. However, taking care of their belongings as well will contribute to better nursing home satisfaction. Have and enforce a no-theft policy when it comes to both staff and residents. Educate residents about best practices for keeping their belongings safe, such as locking their door or storing expensive or sentimental items with family members instead. Make sure that staff follow proper laundry procedures so that they don’t stain or shrink all of a resident’s men’s elastic waist pants for seniors and more.
Do you have more ideas for improving nursing home residents’ satisfaction? Are you already in the midst of implementing changes, or are you planning on it right now? Let us know in the comments below!