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Margaret Wylde
Margaret Wylde

Today when we take a long look at assisted living and what it offers residents, a few key questions come to mind: What is assisted living?  What part of this product does our customer want?

How much time is spent providing assistance to the average assisted living resident?  Are their lives at a point where “assisted living resident” is the best way to describe them? 

What makes a good day, or better yet, a great day for your residents?

We know that people with great limitations in their abilities have more difficulty participating in activities at any level of care. This underscores the importance of understanding what makes a great day for residents and what people want to do.

Do people really want to play Bingo? Or is that just a way to get people together to have a few laughs?

It's time to look at what people do during the day that has nothing to do with the community's organized activities or “assisted” living.

What Contributes to Customer Satisfaction?

Are customers satisfied because of the services you provide?  Are they satisfied because they have an ice cream parlor, a lovely living room area, a larger apartment?  What has the greatest impact on their overall sense of satisfaction with the community?

The ProMatura Group analyzed the results of satisfaction surveys of assisted living residents and their family members in 2012.  We did some correlation analyses to see whether any services had a higher impact on the overall sense of satisfaction than other services.

This chart is what the results would look like if all services provided had an equal impact on the overall sense of satisfaction.  All the wedges would be the same size.

These results suggest that food (21%), the administration (19%), sense of security (17%) and activities (15%) had the strongest correlation with the overall sense of satisfaction among the assisted living residents. 

This does not indicate whether these services have a positive or negative impact, only that when these services change (for better or worse), they have a bigger effect on the overall sense of satisfaction.

Notice the relatively small impact of assisted living services (6%) on the overall sense of satisfaction of the assisted living residents.

Notice the difference in the responses of family members who were surveyed.

The services that have the greatest impact on the overall sense of satisfaction of family members are the assisted services (24%), housekeeping (24%) and staff (14%).

Looking at these areas of services misses the most important elements when assessing individuals' overall sense of satisfaction – the elements that have the greatest impact on how they perceive the quality of their lives.  When we add in the elements that affect the quality of life, we see that the most important are the friendliness of staff (33%), the degree to which they feel that this community is their home (22%), and the opportunity they have to stay connected with the rest of the world (15%).

Ultimately, it's friends, a good day, a hearty belly laugh, friendly staff and a sense of feeling at home that enhance residents' satisfaction.  As you delve deeper into what kinds of activities and interests produce these feelings in residents, satisfaction is likely to increase, and you will indeed learn what makes a great day.

Margaret A. Wylde, Ph.D., is president and CEO of the ProMatura Group, LLC, a market research and advisory firm based in Oxford, MS. She is a speaker, author and expert in conducting statistically valid consumer and market research.


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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.