Feeling More Connected with Loved Ones
After a few years of uncertainty and difficult times, it’s as if the global pandemic is a distant memory. However, COVID-19 posed some challenging obstacles and struggles for lots of people and industries, especially those in the healthcare and social care sectors.
Linc saw and experienced first-hand the literal and metaphorical distance COVID-19 put between careers, residents, and families alike, and it was emotionally challenging for us all. So, as a way to bring everyone closer together, we grasped the opportunity to improve communication between residents and families through new Linc nursing home channels.
The Brief: Create new websites for each Linc nursing home allowing for regular news updates and the capacity to create a platform where families can arrange calls with their loved ones no matter where they are in the world.
This is a project we couldn’t wait to get stuck into, and who better to ask for insight than our Creative Project Lead, Becks Notley.
Kicking Off the Project
A great deal of change came about for everyone when COVID-19 struck, and one of the most affected groups of people were the elderly. In a 2020 study from the charity Age UK, they discovered that 37% of those surveyed over the age of 70 had not left the house in the past seven days. Meanwhile, they also shockingly found that 1 in 20 people aged over 70 had not left their home at all since the start of the pandemic! We might be quick to forget now, but COVID-19 anxiety was something that a lot of us experienced, whether from fear of becoming ill or potentially exposing someone vulnerable, the elderly suffered as a result.
With visiting being put on hold in nursing homes across the country we couldn’t sit by and let the communication between families and our beloved residents be negatively affected. And this is where our project kicked off! We asked Becks for her insight on how the project began, “It was as a result of COVID-19, we had no choice but to look at the issue under a microscope and see how we could better the communication between the resident and the relative in the nursing home.”
Becks continues, “Things were so full on and so busy due to COVID-19, everybody was all hands on deck! We as a comms team had to be more involved with the nursing homes to be able to get the information from them whilst they were on the go. We ended up working very tightly with the nursing homes during the COVID-19 period, and that's when we realised that the Linc nursing homes had an ever-growing voice that needed to be heard.”
Addressing the Problems
Fundamentally, the websites had become an important an urgent priority. Families needed to ensure their loved ones were safe and happy during such uncertain times. In order to do this, we wanted to improve the methods of communication between residents and their families; since no one could visit nursing homes during the pandemic, putting a more advanced call system in place was very important to us. Becks elaborated, “Keeping communication open was the biggest issue, so we needed to think about a strategic approach. The traditional way has always worked as a process with nursing home managers liaising with others; nursing just didn’t really require a great deal of marketing effort for the longest time, and when you look across the nursing industry in general, their marketing is quite archaic.”
But Becks and the rest of the team didn’t want our nursing homes to follow the norm, and the pandemic presented the perfect opportunity to try something new. “So you’ve got your traditional print-based marketing such as brochures, but we wanted to look at the private market and look at digital marketing too. We created a digital marketing strategy for each of the nursing homes, because even though they're all under one brand, Linc, they had so many of their own unique offerings that justified a website for each nursing home.” It was all about ensuring each Linc nursing home had its own online presence; each nursing home already had a dedicated page on the Linc website, but with daily and sometimes even hourly updates during the height of the pandemic it became clearer that individual websites were needed that could be tailored to each nursing home. Becks replied, “The old website pages gave nothing about what the nursing homes got up to and didn't give an insight into all the amazing things that happen inside. It's like a holiday camp!”
The next step was addressing the issue of communication between prospective residents as well as the families of current residents which was brought on due to COVID-19. So, Becks and the team began the next phase of the project, “We then approached the websites from a sales funnel perspective, whereby we wanted to make sure that there was the ability for potential new residents to be able to book a tour to come and look around.”
“And that was the key approach to the website. We wanted to advertise the good stuff that wasn’t talked about on the general Linc website – so then we had three websites to create! To design and develop those, I would say it probably took a good three to six months to finalise all three of them.”
The comms team does like a challenge – but the project didn’t stop there as we had to ensure current residents’ needs were met too. On the new nursing home websites, families can now book allotted times to call their loved ones, which gives everyone something to look forward to! Becks explained, “So what happens is, families can either call or email to get in touch with the admin team and then they usually book a slot a day in advance. But they are very accommodating and can make adjustments – like if you asked ‘It's my mum's birthday. Can I ring this afternoon?’ Then of course they’ll make allowances!”
With these new lines of communication in place thanks to the new Linc nursing home websites, current and prospective residents could easily and happily communicate with families, friends, and the Linc team.
The aim of this project was to improve communication in and out of our nursing homes due to the strain COVID-19 had put on socialising and safety. As we’ve seen, the new websites were a complete success in this regard, and they continue to thrive in a post-pandemic world. Becks explains, “The call service each of the nursing homes now provides continues to be really effective which is great to see. Even as we return to normal, there are lots of families who live abroad or live at a distance from our nursing homes, and they just can’t come and visit. Even if you’re local, it can sometimes take an hour or more simply driving from one end of Cardiff to the other, so it can be challenging to physically go somewhere on a regular basis.”
Becks continues, “So it makes all the difference being able to speak and touch base with your loved ones without having to physically be there. And I’m so glad that the service has remained post-pandemic, it gives the opportunity for people that can't be there as much as they’d like to still interact with the residents.” We’re so happy to see that the comms teams’ hard work and dedication has paid off and that families, residents, and the Linc team is all the better for it.
There were some more amazing results to come out of the development of individual websites for our nursing homes. As part of improving each website’s online presence so families and prospective residents could find them more easily, we looked to enrich our affiliate marketing efforts. Linc was already listed with CareHomes.co.uk, the UK's number one care home reviews website, but with the new websites now in place, we wanted to enhance Capel Grange, Penylan House and Ty Coch's profiles. Becks explains further how this was done, “So we started by working on a review campaign, whereby we worked to collate reviews by sending out paper-based cards or emailing links out to people so they could write reviews on their experiences.
We got lots of fantastic feedback and we channelled this to ensure the right people saw the amazing reviews. And soit was over the space of a year that we managed to go from being unlisted on CareHomes.co.uk to Penylan and Capel Grange now being listed as top 20 care homes in Wales; Capel Grange was also number one in Newport for a time and we’re working on maintaining this status through bigger and better marketing campaign, so watch this space!”
Linc was also very pleased to discover that our three nursing homes had been voted as not only the top 20 in Wales, but also the top 20 in the UK, and all this was achieved through a year of marketing from our dedicated and passionate comms team; building the websites and creating an effective marketing approach that not only allowed us to achieve these incredible results but also improve the lives of our beloved residents.
Now two years on from a global pandemic with three new websites and some fabulous awards, we asked Becks to reflect on the journey and how she feels now having achieved all these wonderful things, “I’m really, really pleased, we were all just so chuffed after the work and effort that went into it all! It was a great project to work on too, and there’s such great people working in the Linc nursing homes and they’re always willing to learn new things and get on board with our ideas.
I think the housing and social care sectors are full of nice people, and I’ve worked with genuinely lovely people who have got the customer at the heart of everything they do. So to have created these websites and have a 60% increase in enquiries is amazing, as now everyone can see the amazing work our staff does at Capel Grange, Penylan Houseand Ty Coch.”
A big thank you to Becks and the rest of the amazing comms team for being able to achieve such incredible results that can still be seen today. For more information on Linc and our nursing homes, get in touch today for a chat.