Rising from a Strong Foundation: A Review of Resident Satisfaction Studies Over Time

Rising from a Strong Foundation / CALA News & ViewsThree years have passed since we first reported on the high level of Assisted Living resident satisfaction in CALA News & Views. The article, “Home is Where You Are,” began with the 2004 study Consumer Discourse in Assisted Living, published by the Center for Aging Studies at the University of Maryland. This study showed that challenges exist when delivering a multifaceted service like Assisted Living. According to the study, “personal care is a particularly complex consumer ‘good’” because it “provides product (e.g. private apartment) and service (e.g., assistance with personal care).”

But, despite the complexity, residents reported high levels of satisfaction. In Assisted Living Residents and Prospectives Surveys of 2007, the Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA) noted that an overwhelming majority—91 percent—were very or somewhat satisfied with their community. A similar percentage, 89 percent, rated their community favorably.

So, has anything changed? Our original examination of resident satisfaction hypothesized that the reason for such a high level satisfaction was, in part, a result of the residents’ ability to maintain a sense of control and independence within the care setting. This hypothesis was based on results from ALFA’s 2009 Overview of Assisted Living, which reported that a majority of residents were “either entirely or partially responsible for making the decision to move into their assisted living residence.”

The study, “Residential Context, Social Relationships, and Subjective Well-Being in Assisted Living” published by Research on Aging in 2012, bears this hypothesis out. According to authors Deborah Street and Stephanie Woodham Burge, “having control over the Assisted Living transition…was positively associated with all four dimensions of subjective well-being” tested, including general, temporal, comparative, and experiential well-being.

The study also examines a factor in resident satisfaction which was not touched on in our previous article: the importance of socialization and community involvement. Street and Woodham Burge state in their study that “high quality staff relationships were associated with temporal well-being, while positive corresident relationships were associated with all four well-being indicators.” Surprisingly, the authors found that “other residential context characteristics (living arrangements prior to assisted living, private pay, size) were less consistently associated with well-being.” In other words, it’s not the size of the community, but the quality of the people inside that make a difference.

And the quality of those people has remained high, according to ALFA’s 2013 Survey of Assisted Living Residents. ALFA reports that respondents feel staff members care about them as people (86 percent), are well trained to do their job (87 percent), provide a satisfactory quality of care (90 percent), and provide a satisfactory level of personal attention (93 percent).

National Resident Satisfaction Poll / Assisted Living Federation of AmericaNational Research Corporation’s 2013 report, Empowering Customer-Centric Healthcare for Post-Acute Providers, backs up ALFA’s findings. According to the report, “91% of residents and 90% of families assess their assisted living community’s sufficiency of healthcare needs as ‘good’ or ‘excellent.’” In addition, staff delivery of personal assistance was rated highly by 90% of residents and 87% of family members. “What’s perhaps even more important,” the report notes, is that “the percent of customers rating each of these areas as ‘excellent’ has increased across the board when comparing 2010 results to 2012.”

And high levels of satisfaction with a community’s staff are significant, the report says, for both current and future residents. “Two of the top five drivers of both resident and family recommendation of an assisted living community are related to how the community staff provides services.” These drivers are staff members’ competency and their care and concern for residents, both of which received a positive rating of more than 90 percent by Assisted Living residents according to National Research Corporation.

In addition to satisfaction with staff, residents are satisfied with the community itself. 93 percent of participants in ALFA’s 2013 Survey of Assisted Living Residents say they are satisfied, including 68 percent that say they are “very satisfied.”

And what about those other factors examined in our 2011 article—independence, privacy, and sense of home? According to respondents, 99 percent feel safe, and 91 percent say they are safer in Assisted Living than they are living alone. 94 percent are satisfied with the quality of life in their Assisted Living community, and 93 percent are satisfied with the level of personal independence.

With the autonomy that Assisted Living residents enjoy, along with the quality of care and social interactions with staff and other residents, it’s no wonder that the level of satisfaction has not only remained high, but has increased.

This article was first published in CALA News & Views Fall 2013: Resident Satisfaction. Learn more about resident satisfaction in Assisted Living.


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