Client experience with communication about a visit cancellation

How clients rated if personal home care staff communicated when they could not make a visit. (see data dictionary)

What do you think?

  • Why does communication about a cancelled visit matter?
  • How might this information be used to inform Continuing Care Health Service Standards 1.0, and/or related sub-standards?
  • Are there differences between zones? Between mainly rural and urban zones? What factors could account for these differences?

Whether you’re a client, family member, provider, or health system administrator, thinking about why these differences might exist can start or inform conversations and lead to solutions for improved quality of healthcare.

Understanding “communication about a visit cancellation”

In a survey conducted from October 2018 to March 2019, the HQCA asked clients receiving home care:

In the last year, personal care staff let me know when they could not come….

Clients could choose “Yes / Partly / No”

Personal care services are typically provided by health care aides for things like help with dressing, eating, and bathing. When personal care staff cannot make a visit unexpectedly to provide these types of services and does not communicate the change to the client, it can be very stressful.

It is important to think about how this experience is closely connected to other aspects of a client’s experience. From the open-ended questions in the HQCA survey, clients expressed a high level of frustration and uncertainty with scheduling, which in turn negatively impacted their day, care, and overall experience. Clients expressed it was important for staff to arrive for their scheduled visits, communicate delays and changes in a timely manner, and to provide unrushed and complete care in the expected amount of time.

This chart cannot confirm whether frustration expressed by respondents in the open-ended questions was a result of insufficient communication, or was reflective of frustration with other aspects of scheduling and cancellations.

Considerations when viewing the results:

This data reflects the experiences of seniors aged 65+ receiving long term supportive and maintenance care and are among the largest groups of home care clients.

There are a number of factors providers and leaders can consider to better understand and improve client experiences with communication about visit cancelations. Some questions they could ask before taking action include:

  • How might a cancelled home care visit disrupt a client’s day, care, or experience? How might this be amplified if they are not informed of a cancellation? What might be the impact to the client’s informal caregiver?
  • How are home care scheduling guidelines shared and discussed with clients? What are the expectations for communicating cancellations? Are these being consistently followed?
  • What methods of communications (e.g., phone, e-mail) are available to personal home care staff to contact clients about a cancellation? Does the method of communication used align with the client’s preferred method of communication?
  • Do clients know who to contact if they are feeling frustrated about their schedule?

For information about the HQCA’s Alberta Seniors Home Care Client Survey, please visit the HQCA website.

The Health Quality Council of Alberta uses the Alberta Quality Matrix for Health as a way of organizing information and thinking around the complexity of the healthcare system. This measure can be used as input to assess home care’s performance in these dimensions of quality:
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Dimensions of Quality

  • Acceptability 
  • Accessibility 
  • Appropriateness 
  • Effectiveness 
  • Efficiency 
  • Safety