Case Study: Springwood Care Home

Patient Opinion has pioneered online feedback for health services in the UK. But could this approach be useful for residential care homes? We asked Anita Bland, Registered Manager of Springwood Care Home how she has found trialling this approach.

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Tell us a bit about SheffCare, and Springwood, and about your role there?

SheffCare is a registered charity and the largest provider of residential care services for older people in Sheffield. I manage one of their homes, Springwood Residential Home, which is rated 3 star 'Excellent' by the Care Quality Commission. It offers exceptional care in comfortable surroundings. Two of the three floors are specially designed to offer a secure and supportive environment for those with dementia. There is also a day care centre, where up to ten people spend the day socialising at Springwood.

What are some of the challenges associated with running a residential care home?

All managers need to keep up with the latest legislation, as well as achieving and maintaining a high CQC star rating. Managers need to maintain a high level of occupancy in their home, balancing the needs of residents with any budgetary constraints, whilst motivating staff to be proud of what they do. I am also working towards making Springwood a Centre of Excellence.

How did you use Patient Opinion at Springwood?

Patient Opinion was introduced over a year ago by Kate Ebbutt, who did some work shadowing in order to gain insight into my role and the running of the home. We agreed to trial this work with Patient Opinion, to find out what people think of Springwood.

What is involved in doing this? How much work is it?

Letters and leaflets were sent out to around 20-25 relatives and friends. Patient Opinion provided the letters, and we just sent them out. It wasn't much work. Leaflets were also left in reception, and handed to relatives at our regular relatives meeting. Then came the wait for postings on the site!

What has the online feedback about Springwood been like?

The feedback has been very positive. It's wonderful to hear that relatives are pleased their loved one lives at Springwood. We did have one comment expressing concern about staff levels. This was something I was aware of, and through my response, I was able to address this concern. All the other opinions have been positive; praising the feel of the home and the care our staff give residents. A lovely example of positive feedback is this comment by a relative:

"One day I heard one of the staff, Tracy, talking to my nan as they were bathing her. Tracy was lovely with her and so caring and sensitive - I can't imagine it's easy to bathe a grown person. Tears came to my eyes, I was touched by the care and respect demonstrated."

How do staff feel about the work? Has it had an impact on how staff feel about what they do at Springwood?

The home has held a 3 star rating for over 4 years and was awarded this for it's person centred approach and the involvement of undertaking life style skills of daily living. Staff are aware of Patient Opinion and see it as recognition for good and reflective practice, they appreciate getting feedback about their work.

And has there been an impact for your residents and their families?

The homes occupancy is outstanding at 100% with waiting lists for both services, this is rare in the present climate. Receiving positive feedback from relatives is rewarding for staff, and this praise increases their self worth. Where any negative feedback is an issue, we deal with it immediately to make sure there are positives outcomes for residents and staff. We have an open door policy and relatives know that they can share whatever they need to, and they will get a written response to their concern.

What have you learnt from working with Patient Opinion?

I have learnt to appreciate and value the staff more for their hard work and commitment. This is also recognised through the Patient Opinion feedback. The staff feel proud of themselves and are pleased that they can view praise given about them and the service publicly online.