Caring about ISO
Linden Care Homes Ltd was founded in 1990 and has three purpose-built Care Homes located in Staffordshire and North Warwickshire. These provide Nursing, Residential, Residential Dementia and short term Respite Care.
THE CHALLENGES THEY FACE
Families often feel they are caught between a rock and hard place when picking a care home. They want the best for their loved one but they often don’t have the luxury of time to spend looking around and comparing the options. Bewildered by choice, families often turn to the web for help in shortlisting care homes. The leading care home UK review website, carehome.co.uk, has over 16 million visits a year and over 17,000 care homes listed.
For a business like Linden Care Homes, standing out in such a crowd can be challenging. Although there is a marketing budget, its goal is to provide person centred care at a sustainable cost. The more money that is spent on marketing, the less money there is to spend on the extras that Linden’s residents appreciate, such as aromatherapy and party nights. Linden Care Homes therefore quickly identified a need to find a way of differentiating itself from the competition that wasn’t dependent on budget alone.
USING ISO AS A DIFFERENTIATOR
Many care homes have one ISO standard, most commonly ISO 9001, the Quality Management Standard. ISO 9001 provides the instant kudos many care homes are looking for but is now relatively common. For Linden’s purposes, one ISO standard was never going to be enough to help it achieve its goal of being seen as a market leader.
Several care homes have a second ISO standard, marking them out as particularly committed to best practice, but again, Linden Care Homes felt this didn’t set them apart enough.
Not one to be daunted, Linden Care Homes became what is, to the best of our knowledge, the only Care Home company to be certified to three ISO standards (see right).
Debbie Leyland, Founder and Owner of Linden Care Homes, comments, “Whilst all of our homes are rated ‘good’ by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), we felt it was important to continually strive to improve in all aspects of our business. External certification from ISO and other organisations is an indicator of our commitment to ensuring our residents’ satisfaction within a caring environment.”
Keen to publicise its achievements, the firm has clearly advertised its ISO standards within the Awards/Recognition section of its entry on carehome.co.uk. There, the benefits of ISO sit alongside an outline of its other awards including Platinum status within the Gold Standard Framework for end of life care, Investors in People and food hygiene certificates. It has also created an ISO page within its new website to explain what the standards mean to residents.
David Charles, Managing Director and Owner, comments, “Having external certification of our business practices and procedures gives residents and their families confidence that Linden Care Homes is a safe, caring environment. Publicising our achievements helps families to realise that we have well trained staff that are totally focused on providing the best care possible.”
Management buy-in, like Debbie and David’s, is critical to the success of ISO management systems. In a recent audit, our Assessor, Peter O’Neill, commented, “The most striking feature evident at Linden is the strong desire for improvement; helpful and committed staff, and management systems which are fully supported and embraced by the senior leadership team.”