Elmswood Retirement Village, based in Christchurch, New Zealand, houses around 150 residents, including facilities for 50 rest home residents and 25 hospital level care residents. The nearby Fendalton Retirement Village is home to a further 50 residents, split between independent living arrangements and rest home level care. A dedicated team of 130 staff is split across the two facilities, all of whom live by this compelling vision: “To provide a positive, fulfilling experience of aging in a home where we nurture each other.” This vision is underpinned by five values: Quality, Pride, Integrity, Teamwork and Laughter.
Elmswood operates in a heavily audited industry where compliance plays a critical role. Continuous updating of employee skills and competencies is important not just for care staff but for everyone employed by the organisation – from maintenance staff through to gardeners. The HR team of three consists of a facility manager, a unit manager at the Fendalton facility, and Sarah Criglington, Learning & Development Coordinator.
Criglington notes that when she joined the organisation five years ago, it was very reliant on manual HR processes. “Everything was paper-based,” she says. “It was about tracking people on Excel spreadsheets. For training purposes, we relied heavily on PowerPoint and paper documents, including paper questionnaires. People would fill out the questionnaire and put it in for marking, so there was a lot of time spent distributing the material, marking the material, and returning the results to the staff member.”
The onboarding process was also paper-based, increasing the risk of important steps being delayed or even missed entirely. “We really needed to streamline the process and make sure that everything was captured appropriately,” says Criglington.
COVID-19 presented a new set of challenges – not least of which was ensuring training material could be rolled out quickly and efficiently. There was a need to reach all staff, regardless of where they were working, so that the latest information around infection prevention and control, hand hygiene, and other essential topics could be covered.
There was recognition from Criglington and her colleagues that training could be streamlined and delivered via more innovative means.
Criglington and her colleagues looked at several possible solutions, including an industry-based learning management system with pre-built courses, to address the organisation’s evolving training needs. In the end, ELMO won out for its flexibility and ease of use. “ELMO just seemed to be a great solution,” Criglington says. “We could start small just with the learning management system – because that was our biggest issue at the time – and we’ve been building upon that over time.”
Elmswood accessed ELMO Course Library for the first time at the end of 2020 – specifically, a course covering safe lifting and manual handling. Criglington explains that previously, such a course would have been run by a physio coming into the village and running sessions with staff. The Elmswood team recognised that this process could also be streamlined. “Comparing it to other providers, it made so much sense to purchase from ELMO,” Criglington says. “Not only did it integrate with the ELMO Learning system seamlessly, but the content itself was really relevant and more in touch with what we needed than the other providers that we looked at.”
The organisation has also been able to capture and utilise the clinical knowledge and training material already available in-house to create bespoke courses via ELMO Course Builder.
More recently, Elmswood has launched ELMO Onboarding, and it too has had a positive impact. “We’re still making tweaks and changes to it as we go along and find new efficiencies and things that we can improve,” Criglington says.
Criglington has been impressed with the transformative nature of ELMO’s solutions on Elmswood’s internal processes. “It has made such a big difference in relation to how quickly we are able to get information out and how quickly we were able to capture everyone’s details,” she explains. “For example, staff are automatically enrolled in the course, and they know straight away that they have a new course to complete, even if they are on annual leave or away from work. The timeframes in which courses are completed is much quicker, with a lot less running around on my part.”
With the situation changing sometimes on a daily basis during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, giving employees the ability to complete courses remotely, no matter where they were based, was also welcomed. “Everyone was able to do the training really quickly and that worked well. That’s ongoing, too. We’re updating those same modules and making sure they are still relevant and providing our staff with the most up-to-date information,” Criglington says.
There has been a significant reduction in manual work for Criglington. “It’s so much easier, I can’t believe the difference. When I think back to when I first started and how frustrating the whole process was, it’s just so much better now. It’s so much more streamlined, the staff enjoy it more, and the content is so much more relevant,” she says.
When Elmswood staff were surveyed after ELMO had been in place for around 12 months, the responses were enthusiastic. 47% said they learnt more effectively by using the ELMO system and 52% said they had changed their work practices since using ELMO. “A lot of the content was the same or fairly similar; it was just the new method of delivery that caused those increases,” Criglington says.
Further responses from the survey included:
- “It’s easy, quick, and you can do it online at home”
- “ELMO makes learning much easier and faster”
- “It’s easy to use. I like referring back to the notes”
Critically, ELMO’s learning solutions cater to everyone’s needs. Elmswood employs people with varying computer literacy, from minimal through to very experienced users. Criglington says that with minimal guidance, even those with less confidence are gaining a lot from the experience. “They are enjoying it and finding the experience quite straight-forward,” she says.
ELMO’s customer support is also praised by Criglington. “They have been so supportive of what I’m doing here,” she says. “When I have a question, they work with me to find a solution. Raising tickets with the help desk is also efficient and you often get a reply the next day.”
Criglington is excited about the future: “We’re going to keep improving and tweaking our system. We’ll discover new efficiencies as we go along and hopefully eliminate more paper from our lives!”