Datix helps Four Seasons streamline feedback and complaints process

For the care home industry to learn from its mistakes and constantly improve, it must first create a culture that encourages staff, residents and visitors to come clean about problems as they arise. Four Seasons is doing just that, and has simplified complaint handling process using advanced software from Datix.

The solution was first deployed in 2010, and has been consistently upgraded with additional modules ever since. Today, Four Seasons uses Datix for incident management, complaints (re-named feedback) and safety alerts to support resident, colleague and visitor safety across the company’s operations.

The UK’s largest independent health and social care provider has driven through a cultural change across its 350 care homes where problems and incidents are immediately reported so that lessons can be learnt. Datix helps in this gathering of incident reports, and also simplifies how they are reported to regulators across the UK.

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According to Haydn Williams, Datix Manager at Four Seasons Health Care, the results of using Datix have been positive, “Our incident reporting has improved dramatically and we now have over 190,000 incidents and 1,400 compliments recorded in Datix. We have developed a more consistent and altogether faster process for managing complaints and feedback using the software. Complaints are acknowledged within two days of receipt and we maintain a target response time of 20 days to resolve any issues. What is more, Datix provides an excellent audit trail, enabling us to track both the number of complaints we receive and show regulators evidence of positive feedback such as ‘thank you’ letters from grateful residents and their families.”

Williams continued: “In a large and dispersed organisation such as Four Seasons, accurate, real-time information is vital to running an effective care operation. Furthermore, as a private sector organisation, we need to protect our business at all times. Datix helps keep tabs on performance, giving us the hard evidence we need to meet the stringent requirements of external regulators like the CQC, inspire confidence and maintain our corporate reputation.”

The transparency of the Datix system has helped tackle a tendency towards a blame culture, Williams believes. “The implementation of Datix for incident management has been universally embraced at Four Seasons because of the simplicity of the system. Our teams now have a far better understanding of the need to record incidents because they use it themselves and see the link between regular, effective incident reporting and high quality care – safer for them and for their residents.”

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Training has been essential to achieve widespread adoption of the Datix system. Four Seasons made this easy for colleagues by encouraging interaction through webinars and broadcast training sessions. This also cuts down on the cost and time of travel, and ensures the team can spend more of its providing care.

When feedback or complaints are received they are considered as an opportunity to improve processes and procedures. By offering a clear and structured path of investigation and resolution, the information held in Datix helps individuals to approach negative feedback in a non-personal way, free from confrontation.

The teams now feel empowered, confident that the company will listen to them and make meaningful changes to improve things after a thorough investigation, Four Seasons says.

“We particularly appreciate the immediacy afforded by Datix automated email alerts. This powerful functionality puts colleagues throughout the company in control by flagging up serious incidents that demand urgent attention or require the intervention of others, for example, the health and safety department,” Williams describes.

Four Seasons relies on data held in Datix to support its governance framework, Williams describes. “Managers log into Datix over 80,000 times each year to ensure governance processes are being followed. Both the Governance Committee and Health & Safety Committee extract information from Datix which is then discussed at regular meetings and forms the basis of decision making and policy setting,” he adds.

“For example, recent data has identified the need for further investigation into reducing the incidence of avoidable pressure ulcers. In turn this has become the driving force behind a new initiative to encourage organisation-wide best-practice in this field. Data from the Datix system is providing valuable information to target the resources necessary to support our teams in areas with the highest rates of pressure ulcers, as well as helping to collate and share lessons learned, via the project group.”

Four Seasons is currently trialling innovative falls monitoring technology to identify triggers with the ultimate aim of predicting when a fall is about to happen and preventing it. The analysis of Datix data has been instrumental in establishing which residents are most at risk, allowing action to be taken to improve their safety and reduce the number of falls that occur.

Four Seasons has also used the Datix Safety Alerts module to ensure that information about safety issues is distributed rapidly across the organisation. In the twelve months since its introduction, 70 alerts from government agencies and the organisation’s own local experts have been distributed to the relevant people, something that would have been difficult and time consuming without the Datix Safety Alerts module.

One of the most significant benefits of using Datix is the instant availability of data and the advanced reporting capabilities it provides across the Four Seasons group, operationally and for the senior leadership team.

In a complex organisation with eight national regions operating under one umbrella, information in Datix ensures senior managers are always in control of their environment by flagging up potential safety alerts on a daily basis.

Communication to the board is done via the Governance and Risk Committee which comprises the chief operating officer, medical director and Sue Goldsmith, head of dementia care, who concluded: “Datix is central to our business. It has rapidly become an intrinsic and strategic part of our overall business operations, providing us with the evidence we need to take proactive and meaningful decisions. By its very nature, it promotes good governance and supports our stringent approach to risk, quality and resident safety in a single, integrated platform.”

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