SMS Marketing for Care Homes
The care homes sector in the UK is rapidly growing. According to a government-commissioned report which was published in 2017, the care homes sector is worth around £15.9 billion a year in the UK, with around 410,000 residents. It was calculated that there are around 5,500 different providers in the UK operating 11,300 care homes for the elderly, with around 95% of beds provided by the independent sector.
Choices on care are an incredibly important decision taken by or on behalf of individuals who are often extremely vulnerable, and the nature and quality of the care home is of huge importance. As well as the standards of care themselves, many of those looking for the right home for a loved one place a high value on communication. SMS Marketing is a cost-effective and easy to implement tool that can facilitate improved communications between care homes and families of residents in their care. Here are some examples of how it can be used.
1. What’s on?
Many care homes arrange a selection of events throughout the year that are open to family and relatives of those in care, from special dinners at times like Christmas and Easter to themed events of relevance to their residents, such as royal jubilees and historical occasions. It is important to ensure that family members know about such events in advance, however it is all too easy to overlook them in today’s hectic world and assume they got the message or read a notice at the home. To make sure nobody misses out, why not send out an SMS message such as:
“Dear friends and family, you are warmly invited to join your loved ones here at Grace House Care Home for a very special commemorative dinner this Saturday 19th May to celebrate the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. RSVP 9/5/2018…”
If you are planning further in advance, for example Christmas dinners, then a follow up message nearer the occasion may be relevant.
2. SMS Marketing for news updates
Whether it is new members of the team, successful CQC inspections or expansions to facilities, there is always some news to share with families and next of kin – so why not use SMS Marketing. It is much more likely to be read than email and is great for today’s mobile lifestyle.
Not only does sharing such information keep those with residents in care fully in the loop, it also demonstrates the human side of your organisation, which is increasingly important as the care industry continues to evolve and develop.
If you have a website with a regularly updated news page or blog, then SMS Marketing is also a great way to share updates as the vast majority of phones are now internet enabled. All it takes is a link to a website URL in the SMS message and the recipient can click to go there instantly and effortlessly.
3. Appointments and confirmations
There will, on occasion, be a necessity for specific meetings to be held between care homes and those with decision making responsibility for residents. This may relate to changes in their general needs, medical occurrences or follow up, rehabilitation and more. Whatever the reason for the appointment, SMS Marketing is the perfect way to handle planning, confirmation and reminders. For a routine meeting, simply send out an SMS such as:
“Dear Mrs Clive, we would like to invite you to attend the six monthly care plan review for your father which is now due. Please call us on 01902 343 534 to arrange a suitable date and time. Kind regards, Grace House Care Home..”
As soon as any arrangement has been made, send out an SMS confirmation with a structure like:
“Dear Mrs Clive, we are pleased to confirm that your father’s six month care plan review has been booked for Tuesday 22 May at 10:00. If you need to rearrange, please don’t hesitate to call us on 01902 343 534…”
A further reminder can be sent a day or two before the appointment.
With a little adaptation, the same strategy is equally effective for matters relating to existing residents as well as arrangements for incoming or potential residents.
4. SMS for Staffing
SMS Marketing does not have to be limited to the residents and family either. It is also a very effective way of managing staffing levels, especially when hours and locations are variable. If staff work on a fixed rota, you can confirm their hours by SMS on a weekly or fortnightly basis for example, whilst those who are on bank or cover may need a daily SMS confirming the times and locations of their shift.
Because with SMS staff will get the information literally to the palm of their hand wherever they happen to be, it is far more reliable and practical than other channels and can help to ensure maximum attendance.
SMS Marketing can also be a quick and practical way to check availability of personnel if you are short-staffed and need last minute cover.
5. Reviews and Feedback
Communication between all the stakeholders in an individual’s care has become a key focus of attention recently and can have a significant impact on a care home’s overall ratings. With this in mind, it is important to have in place a system where those with responsibility for residents and their matters have the opportunity to provide feedback. Because it is so simple and convenient to use, SMS Marketing is ideal for this. A very effective way to gather key information is to design an SMS based survey that features a number of closed questions that can be rated on a numerical scale. An example of such as question might be:
“On a scale of 1-10, where 10 is excellent, how well do you feel you are kept informed of key developments and changes at Grace House?”
It is important to seek the recipient’s permission prior to beginning the survey, and of course the number of question should be limited to a reasonable number – typically around five. Finally, the survey should conclude with an opportunity for further feedback to be provided that may not be within the scope of the closed questions. Given the sensitivity of the care home environment, in this particular case it may be relevant to offer a choice of alternative contact methods should the recipient feel the need to address a particular point or concern in greater detail.
With effective use of SMS Marketing, care homes can enhance their professional image, improve their reputation and demonstrate a human touch. To learn more and get an account set up and ready to go now, call the experts at Fastsms today on 0800 954 5305.
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