By MaryLee Herrmann

Do you think your residents are happy? Really satisfied? Any idea?

You finally have the results of the biannual email survey of residents in front of you; this is the information that should let you know how everyone feels about the job you and your staff are doing. Ah, hmmm. Bunch of numbers.

Let’s see, your admission process rating: You’ve got some 1s; some wise guy who gave it a 3.7; and whew, a few 9s and 10s.

Uhm, okay. Now what? Like, what do you do with those digits? Any idea?

Can We Talk?

Nick Waslien of Savant (formerly CareQuality), a Foresight partner, has an idea: “You have to determine the satisfaction of the folks under your roof and then learn from it.” That’s not something you can get from a 1-to-10-scale rating email or paper survey that people rarely bother to fill out.

Nick says that to really know how residents (and family members) feel, you have to reach out to them as people, residents you care about. Talk to them. Ask them about how they’re feeling and what their concerns are. That simple.

Are You Talking to Me?

Savant conducts these conversations — and does so at critical touchpoints, like shortly after move-in. (They also survey a monthly sample of the resident population.) The residents and/or family members are contacted over the phone by one of the Savant interviewers, many of whom have health care experience, or have had family in senior living.

Look at the difference.

The standard survey says, “Please fill in the blank if you feel there are any areas where the community where you live could make improvements.”

Resident response: Not enough night staff.

Now what? You don’t have it in the budget to hire more night staff at this time. Nor do you know exactly what they need at night.

Instead, check this out:

Savant interviewer: Hi, how’s it going?

Resident: “Not enough night staff.”

Savant interviewer: “Thank you, I’m putting your answer in now. And why do you feel there is not enough night staff?”

Resident: “Because they are always late bringing my medication at bedtime and take a really long time when I push the call button.”

Now We’re Talking!

With something to go on, Nick points out, you can get to the root of the problem. Are others feeling the same way? Is it something you need to make a change to, get an additional staff member working nights? With the right information, it could turn out you don’t actually need more night staff. Instead, one or two of the members of your team might just need to change their nightly rounds to meet these residents’ needs in a more timely fashion.

With specific information, immediately accessible to all levels of staff, you’re able to focus time and money where there is a genuine need for improvement — and do less throwing of Hail Marys hoping to resolve an issue, or less doing nothing because you don’t even know where the problems lie.

According to Nick, “It’s not really a survey to us, it’s more of a conversation that’s structured. So the benefit is you can engage in conversation with more context.”

Spreading the Word

Having an easy and smart way to promote the awesome feedback your community receives — which Savant also makes simple — lets others know that you and your staff genuinely care and that they create a nurturing, engaging environment. Those are important things, as people make the important decision of where they want to move and pursue their own well-being and satisfaction in this next chapter of their lives.

Now, you’re in the know.

Nick said, “We don’t use long-term contracts. We want to earn your business every single month and provide that data that’s necessary to monitor and improve the quality of care for your residents.”

To take the guesswork out of resident satisfaction in your community, visit the Savant site. You’ll get the lowdown on how best to get the lowdown every time.