We’ve always prided ourselves on listening to our residents’ suggestions, comments, compliments and, indeed, fears.

We’ve devised various ways of consulting with the people who are most affected by our decisions.

So when we developed our plans for restructuring our buildings we asked our residents to tell us what they thought about how things needed to be changed and we took their views into account.

We’ve come a very long way since the days when residents and family members were too frightened to speak up in case their comments brought “repercussions”.

But gathering meaningful comments hasn’t proved easy. Pretty surprising, you might think when dealing with an intelligent, articulate and, dare I say, somewhat “bolshy” group of people.

Despite that, and despite the public presentations, the question and answer sessions, the Have Your Say forms and new quality assurance procedures we just weren’t harvesting enough worthwhile information to give us the larger picture and help influence change……until last week.

Last Wednesday was a turning point.

We held a Residents’ Forum with residents’ representatives from each floor bringing views from their “patch”. It was an incredibly positive and constructive meeting. Finally we were achieving the dialogue we’d wanted for so long.

We asked about food, care, bathing, activities and more meaningful involvement of residents in the running of Heathlands Village

Bravely, the senior staff listened and took it on the chin.

So what will we be working to change?

  • Increased frequency of showers.
  • Quicker response at night on some units
  • Quicker response in lounges when a “comfort break” is needed
  • Improved runniness of poached eggs, frequency of chopped herring and availability of kippers
  • Greater involvement of residents in running of activities like writing newsletters, working in the shop and planning menus.

What will we not be changing?

  • The warmth of the staff on all the floors
  • The warmth of the waiting on staff at mealtimes
  • The frequency and variety of activities
  • The being listened to

Whilst at times we’re tempted to think that we’ll never get there, this comment from Saul made a huge impact. “There’s certainly been a very big change… for the better”.

For me, that makes it all worthwhile.