Four Seasons: RLDatix is central to business of of the UK's largest independent health care provider

Four Seasons Health Care is the UK’s largest independent health and social care provider.

Operating 350 care homes throughout the UK, the company provides high quality residential, nursing and dementia care to 16,000 predominantly older people, employing over 20,000 colleagues. The Four Seasons vision is to improve the lives of the residents and the communities they serve by consistently delivering special resident experiences - and to be the best place to work in the care sector.

Over the years, Four Seasons has established a reputation for professionalism in all aspects of its care operations and with care homes throughout the United Kingdom, the company works with a number of different regulatory bodies – the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in England, the Care Inspectorate in Scotland, the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales, and the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority in Northern Ireland.

Successful implementation leads to new investment

Four Seasons first deployed RLDatix patient safety software in 2010 to replace an in-house developed system that could no longer accommodate the requirements of an expanding and increasingly complex organisation. Impressed by the success of the RLDatix rollout, the company has invested further in the technology over the years. Today, Four Seasons uses RLDatix for incident management, complaints (re-named feedback) and safety alerts to support resident, colleague and visitor safety across the company’s diversified health and social care operations.

According to Haydn Williams, Datix Manager at Four Seasons Health Care, the results of using RLDatix have been positive, “Our incident reporting has improved dramatically and we now have over 190,000 incidents and 1,400 compliments recorded in the system. We have developed a more consistent and altogether faster process for managing complaints and feedback using the software. Complaints are acknowledged within two days of receipt and we maintain a target response time of 20 days to resolve any issues. What is more, RLDatix provides an excellent audit trail, enabling us to track both the number of complaints we receive and show regulators evidence of positive feedback such as ‘thank you’ letters from grateful residents and their families.”

Accurate, real-time information promotes consistency, aids compliance

The report of the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry flagged up the need for consistency across healthcare organisations. RLDatix formed the basis of the development of a robust set of resident safety processes and aided regulatory compliance across the whole Four Seasons group.

Haydn Williams continued, “In a large and dispersed organisation such as Four Seasons with homes from Jersey to Dundee and Northern Ireland to the East Coast of England, accurate, real-time information is vital to running an effective care operation. Furthermore, as a private sector organisation, we need to protect our business at all times. RLDatix helps keep tabs on performance, giving us the hard evidence we need to meet the stringent requirements of external regulators like the CQC, inspire confidence and maintain our corporate reputation.”

Like all health and social care providers, Four Seasons is bound by the ‘Duty of Candour’ legislation, whereby it is legally obliged to inform and apologise to its residents if there have been mistakes that have led to significant harm. This safeguards residents and ensures they receive accurate and truthful information from their healthcare provider. Observing Duty of Candour is made possible by using RLDatix with efficient, standardised, incident and complaints management processes across the organisation.

Culture shift not culture shock

Four Seasons uses RLDatix to gather and then analyse resident safety information. The system has fostered a shift in culture where employees recognise the positive impact of recording every incident and receiving feedback. The transparency of the RLDatix system has also removed any tendency towards a blame culture, a sentiment summed up by Haydn Williams, “The implementation of RLDatix for incident management has been universally embraced at Four Seasons because of the simplicity of the system. Our teams now have a far better understanding of the need to record incidents because they use it themselves and see the link between regular, effective incident reporting and high quality care – safer for them and for their residents.”

Training is essential to achieve widespread adoption of the RLDatix system and Four Seasons makes this easy for colleagues by encouraging interaction through webinars and broadcast training sessions to cut down on travel time and time away from providing care.

When complaints are received they are considered as an opportunity to improve the status quo. By offering a clear and structured path of investigation and resolution, the information held in RLDatix helps individuals to approach negative feedback in a non-personal way, free from confrontation. The teams now feel empowered, confident that the company will listen to them and make meaningful changes to improve things after a thorough investigation.

Haydn Williams continued, “We particularly appreciate the immediacy afforded by RLDatix automated email alerts. This powerful functionality puts colleagues throughout the company in control by flagging up serious incidents that demand urgent attention or require the intervention of others, for example, the health and safety department.”

Promoting best practice across the organisation

Four Seasons relies on data held in RLDatix to support its governance framework. According to Haydn Williams, “Managers log into Datix over 80,000 times each year to ensure governance processes are being followed. Both the Governance Committee and Health & Safety Committee extract information from RLDatix which is then discussed at regular meetings and forms the basis of decision making and policy setting.”

“For example, recent data has identified the need for further investigation into reducing the incidence of avoidable pressure ulcers. In turn this has become the driving force behind a new initiative to encourage organisation-wide best-practice in this field. Data from the RLDatix system is providing valuable information to target the resources necessary to support our teams in areas with the highest rates of pressure ulcers, as well as helping to collate and share lessons learned, via the project group.”

Similarly, Four Seasons is currently trialling innovative new falls monitoring technology to identify triggers and pre-empt falls. The analysis of RLDatix data has been instrumental in establishing which residents are most at risk, allowing action to be taken to improve their safety and reduce the number of falls that occur.

Four Seasons has also used the RLDatix Safety Alerts module to ensure that information about safety issues is distributed rapidly across the organisation. In the twelve months since its introduction, 70 alerts from government agencies and the organisation’s own local experts 
have been distributed to the relevant people, something that would have been difficult and time consuming without the RLDatix Safety Alerts module.

Evidence transforms decision-making

One of the most significant benefits of using RLDatix is the instant availability of data and the advanced reporting capabilities it provides across the Four Seasons group, operationally and for the senior leadership team.

In a complex organisation with eight national regions operating under one umbrella, information in Datix ensures senior managers are always in control of their environment by flagging up potential safety alerts on a daily basis.

Communication to the Board is done via the Governance and Risk Committee which comprises the Chief Operating Officer, Medical Director and Sue Goldsmith, Head of Dementia Care, who concluded:

“The system is central to our business. It has rapidly become an intrinsic and strategic part of our overall business operations, providing us with the evidence we need to take proactive and meaningful decisions. By its very nature, it promotes good governance and supports our stringent approach to risk, quality and resident safety in a single, integrated platform.”

Healthy future

Four Seasons welcomes the high level of collaboration, close engagement and excellent communication it shares with the team at Datix including feedback for the introduction of new functionality to the system.

Four Seasons has ambitious plans for making continual improvements to the Datix implementation. Next on the horizon is deploying the Datix Dashboards and Risk Register modules to gain easier access to critical safety information, deliver speedier response times and accelerate decision making.

Haydn and his team strongly believe that the success of the resident safety programme largely depends on blending the right culture with technology. Four Seasons aims to win the hearts and minds of both new and existing Datix users through good communication, highlighting the benefits of the system as a positive tool that empowers individuals to deliver exceptional levels of care.

About Four Seasons Health Care
Four Seasons Health Care is the UK’s largest independent health and social care provider. The company operates 350 care homes, each focused on providing safe, high quality care for every resident, and employs 20,000 colleagues.

Four Seasons offers a full range of care services from residential and intermediate care, to nursing and palliative care. It is also an expert in dementia care and its award-winning dementia programme has been proven to enhance the lives of residents.

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