Increasing Community Engagement at Carinya House

Increasing Community Engagement at Carinya House

Making it easy for relatives to provide feedback is important as it will help you assess the quality of care and services offered by your organisation. One of the main issues arising during the relative survey process is how to increase the participation rate and in doing so, obtain a view that is representative of the broader relative community. As connectivity to the internet and email becomes more the rule than the exception within the general population, on-line surveying is providing a convenient alternative to the more traditional methods.

During the data cleansing process it was identified that Carinya House had achieved almost 100% participation in the relative survey and had used the QPS on-line survey. Jenny Chua, director of Care agreed to a short interview with George Mitchell from QPS Benchmarking who wanted to understand the processes that had been used to achieve such a great response rate. The following is a transcript of the questions and answers.

What process did you use to distribute the online survey? For example, did you email the survey link to their home or did you have a computer set up in the residential aged care home?

We distributed the survey link by email to all the relatives (person responsible for care) who have provided their personal email addresses to our facility. This number has been increasing over the last 3 years, Carinya House has 60 residents and only 5 relatives do not have an email contact. We posted the hard copy survey form to these five relatives with self-addressed envelope and the facility staff entered the results to the online survey when the hard copy surveys were returned.

How did you communicate to the relatives your need for them to complete the survey? For example did you send a personal letter or communicate face to face during a meeting?

We communicated with relatives and provided an explanation of the on-line survey through the one email sent to relatives which included the link to the survey. The email was sent three times, the first email was sent three weeks prior to the due date and then a reminder email one week before the due date. After a review of the response rate with the QPS office on the Friday before the due date it was noticed the response rates had increased significantly during the last week. In view of this and being mindful that the due date occurred immediately after a long weekend, we decided to extend the survey deadline for another week. Hence we sent out the third reminder email detailing the extended deadline.

What was the key feature in engaging the relatives to complete the survey? For example did you offer or provide any assistance to relatives to complete the survey on line?

We did not receive any feedback from relatives indicating that they had any problems in completing the survey on line. On the contrary, we have received more compliments this year after offering the online survey, when compared to previous years. This shows how quickly things are changing and we need to keep up with these, particularly if we can make it easier for relatives to provide us with feedback and make our work processes more efficient.

What have the results been used for and have the relatives been informed of their excellent participation rates?

The Facility Manager has developed improvement plans in response to a number of areas identified from the comments in the survey. Feedback has been provided to the relatives by the facility manager. A copy of the QPS Analysis Report which includes the response rate and the Verbatim Report with the facility manager's additional comments have been emailed to the relatives and posted to those without an email address.

As a result of the feedback received from the relatives, what will be improved during the next 12 months?

In response to some of the comments in the survey, improvements have been planned in these areas in particular:
  • Instead of having separate quarterly resident and relative meetings, a combined resident and relative meeting will be held bi-monthly to provide up to date information and education to the resident and relatives. Advanced notices and the meeting agenda will be emailed or sent to relatives to encourage maximum participation. The increase in the number of residents with cognitive impairment and the increase in the number of relatives using email to communicate with the facility manager have reduced the attendance to the separate resident and relative meetings. Some repeated comments from the survey over issues that had been dealt with by the facility manager indicated that there is a need for the facility management to address residents and relatives affected by the same issue together. Email communication is usually between the facility management and the individual relative. It is more time efficient for the facility manager to address all at the same time to reduce the risk of misunderstanding.
  • A more structured DT activity program has been developed and implemented in the Dementia Specific areas.
  • A Review of the cleaning and laundry contract is scheduled this year.