Gathering and using effective resident and family feedback can go far in improving quality of care and services. And as experts note, the methods and frequency of surveys are factors nearly as important as the results themselves. Experts describe here how to improve your resident satisfaction survey methods.


Resident satisfaction
should be a proactive part of your business model, and not only a periodic survey.

“Once a facility makes the commitment to set up a resident satisfaction program, they shouldn’t just give lip service to it,” says Chip Kessler, general manager at Extended Care Products. 

Be mindful of the key drivers in resident satisfaction: positive resident experiences, staff competency, management responsiveness and providing choices and preferences, adds Scott Smith, marketing director, National Research Corp.


Often, the method of gauging satisfaction is as important as the questions themselves. Mail surveys are the most cost-effective and secure, and ensure the highest level of responses, Smith believes. 

“Phone surveys can be invasive and expensive, and honest feedback may be [skewed] by ‘sugar- coated’ responses via telephone,” he adds.

Others see it differently.

“The best results are obtained from one-on-one personal communication. Some phone or in-person interviews, meanwhile, are almost required for mail survey follow-ups or for long-stay and dementia care residents,” according to Gwen Uman, RN, Ph.D., partner at Vital Research.


The most effective satisfaction queries don’t overtly try to elicit positive responses. And it’s important to put your subject at ease upfront. With newly admitted residents, for example, be prepared to “convey your commitment toward resident satisfaction by asking questions such as, ‘How has the transition to the facility been for you, your family, and most importantly, your loved one?’” advises Kessler. 

Adds Smith: “In an era of person-centered care, survey questions should go beyond mere satisfaction measurement to capture resident experience.” 

Uman says resident survey questions should be as simply stated as possible to avoid ambiguity in the feedback you get. 

“For example, ask, ‘Do the people who work here smile at you?’ rather than, ‘Are the employees friendly?’” she advises.


When and how often satisfaction surveys are conducted is increasingly important. Annual surveys may provide “big picture” information but fail to capture rich feedback, experts say.

Kessler advises an initial satisfaction feedback encounter shortly after admission, and subsequent follow-up calls every six months. 

Short-stay residents should be told upon discharge to expect a survey, stressing the importance of such feedback for ongoing quality improvement, Uman says.


Don’t overlook the value of separate family surveys.

“Customer-centric health-
care extends the concept of patient-centered care to include all healthcare stakeholders — especially families,” says Smith. 

Also key is identifying one family member closest or most perceptive to the resident’s situation, Kessler notes. 

“This person will be in the best position to give you informed answers,” he says, adding that anyone other than this person is prone “to be influenced by family feuds, politics or other biases.”


Satisfaction survey
results can be used not only
 to improve the quality of care and services, but also for demonstrating your facility’s commitment to care, easing care transitions and, of course, good marketing, experts point out.

A thoughtful approach to using survey results also goes far in mitigating some legal woes because it demonstrates the facility’s commitment to communication and caring, according to Kessler.

The best satisfaction survey results “offer an evidence-based foundation for effective planning, and a cornerstone for measuring the success of your clinical, operational, and financial goals,” Smith concludes.