Guest Columns

Delivering good customer service in long-term care

Melissa Estevez, Hebrew Home at Riverdale by RiverSpring Health
Melissa Estevez, Hebrew Home at Riverdale by RiverSpring Health

The fastest growing segment of the population is over age 85. With age comes many diseases, falls and accidents that often lead people to rehabilitation. Although you may associate rehabilitation with therapy and nursing, customer service is critical for a successful patient experience.  

At RiverSpring Rehabilitation, located on the campus of the Hebrew Home at Riverdale by RiverSpring Health, we have introduced several new initiatives to bring the concept of customer service front and center to our rehab patients' stay and it has been overwhelmingly successful. Through patient satisfaction surveys, we have found that our patients weigh their patient experiences with similar importance to treatment processes.  

We understand the value of giving our patients an outstanding experience and emphasize a unique customer service approach to care. We have taken several significant steps to make this customer-centric approach come to life. The addition of the customer service supervisor to the sub-acute rehabilitation program is a key component and reflects our proactive and innovative approach to provide our patients with the best possible experience.  

A warm welcome

When visiting a lavish hotel, one can expect to be greeted by staff or management before setting foot in the lobby. The warm welcome is the first impression and sets the tone for the entire stay.

Being admitted to a subacute rehabilitation facility can be a daunting experience for both the patient and their families. The transition from the hospital to a new facility and not knowing what the future holds can make anyone feel anxious and vulnerable.  

Providing a warm welcome to our patients and their families is a priority for us. We want our patients to feel at ease from the moment they arrive. It is up to us to deliver the clear message that our team is here to help them – not only by responding to but also by anticipating their needs. The customer service supervisor greets each new admission and discusses what to expect, sharing important information and answering any and all questions. Both the patients and their family members are encouraged to reach out to the supervisor if they have concerns or questions throughout the patient's stay.  

Checking in

The customer service supervisor visits patients each day to proactively address patient concerns before they turn into complaints. It's about having a strong emotional connection with patients and genuinely caring about them as individuals and their experiences. By always sharing a smile, the customer service supervisor asks questions like “How are you doing?” and “Is there anything you need?” 

Any concerns or complaints are shared with the appropriate care team member (nurse manager, social worker, maintenance, housekeeping, etc.) to be addressed immediately. Daily activity is documented, and a report is generated for department directors to review. This provides an opportunity to make procedural changes and assess the care climate in a timely manner.  

Customer service in the healthcare industry is becoming more popular and deserves attention. Adding a customer service team member is a step in the right direction. The key to this approach is being proactive and anticipating patients' needs. The hospitality industry has made the case that from the first greeting to the last day of one's stay, customer care and service can make or break one's experience. The “personal touch” is essential in rehabilitation too. We believe a warm welcome and a proactive check in can make a challenging time that much easier to navigate for our patients.  

Melissa Estevez is the customer service supervisor at the Hebrew Home at Riverdale by RiverSpring Health.

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Guest Columns

Guest columns are written by long-term care industry experts, ranging from academics and thought leaders to administrators and CEOs.

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