Resident and customer satisfaction surveys are an important way for aging services organizations to gauge how well they meet the needs and preferences of the older adults they serve. However, research has shown that satisfaction scores can be influenced by personal characteristics of the individuals providing the rating, which can be unrelated to the services provided. A recent study aimed to examine the relative contributions of personal factors and aspects of the care situation on satisfaction with care for older adults receiving home health care and nursing home care.
This survey asked about aspects of the individual (anxiety, health, and loneliness) as well as aspects of the services provided (safeness, treatment by staff, staff availability, and whether staff had sufficient time for care recipients’ needs).
The researchers found that, overall, older adults in home care were more satisfied than those in nursing homes, and that older adults in nursing homes were more lonely, had higher anxiety, and reported poorer health than individuals receiving home care. In nursing homes, staff were perceived as having less time and the quality of treatment by staff was also considered lower. However, nursing homes had higher scores on safeness and staff availability.
While all three personal factors examined were correlated with satisfaction scores in both settings, loneliness and anxiety showed the strongest effect on scores. The correlation of loneliness with satisfaction scores was higher in nursing homes than in home care settings. All of the caregiving factors were also correlated with satisfaction scores, with safeness and staff availability being more strongly correlated with satisfaction in a nursing home setting.
Looking at the relative contributions of these factors, in the home care setting, personal factors accounted for 9 percent of the variation in satisfaction scores, while care process factors accounted for 45 percent. In nursing homes, personal factors accounted for 21 percent of the variation in satisfaction scores, while care process factors accounted for 39 percent. Perhaps most interestingly, aspects of the care process can reduce the impact of personal factors on satisfaction scores. The researchers also determined that the impact of loneliness on satisfaction scores is mitigated when the older adults are provided a safe care environment and are treated respectfully.
Overall, this research not only shows the impact of multiple aspects of the care process on satisfaction ratings, but also shows how aspects of the care process can reduce the impact of personal factors on satisfaction scores.
Kajonius PJ and Kazemi A. Safeness and treatment mitigate the effect of loneliness on satisfaction with elderly care. The Gerontologist (2016); 56(5): 928–936.