Procurement focusing on soft values
Annika Lückner likes to make things difficult for herself and for others, at least when it comes to as important and substantial an investment as a new residential care facility with 120 flats in a municipality with just over 16,000 inhabitants.
“We chose a work method that would demand more of us and of our project partners. But we had to if we were to get the best possible outcome for the elderly residents,” she says.
"It can’t be the case that the perspective of nursing, which is the core of what we want to create, comes into the picture until the very end, then it will not be good."
Annika Lückner is referring to how the procurement of furnishings for the Djupängen facility was formulated.
The municipality wanted to get away from a one-sided focus on price. Instead, they chose an approach where it became possible to request a functional solution based on the vision of a warm and welcoming care environment.
“We invited interior design companies and tried to describe the feeling we wanted to accomplish rather than ask for suggestions for products. It was an open-ended question leaving the companies to interpret our meaning and come with ideas. This puts greater demands on suppliers, but the result is better for everyone – the residents, staff, relatives and municipality,” she says.
The other key to success was collaboration. From the time that the project started in earnest in 2017, the social and service administrations have worked in close collaboration.
“They built and were responsible for the hard values while we took responsibility for the content and soft values. “It is unreasonable that the perspective of nursing, which is the core of what we want to achieve, doesn’t come into the picture until the very end. It's just unacceptable,” says Annika Lückner.
This way of working made it possible for their vision of how the care environment would be perceived to lead the way. This was only further strengthened by the fact that Hammarö collaborated with an architect that not only understood, but was interested in the nursing perspective.
“We had a work group consisting of people from various professions, including those who were to staff the Djupängen facility, to get as many perspectives and as much expertise as we could. The purpose was to gain a holistic picture of the demands, opportunities and needs. We also carried out discussions with stakeholder organisations such as PRO (the Swedish national organisation of pensioners).”
When it comes to furnishings, Annika Lückner is of the opinion that furniture companies need to be allowed into the process early on, both to get an understanding of the procurer's vision and needs, and to have the opportunity to contribute their expertise.
“Furnishings are absolutely vital for how the facility is perceived; they give the environment it’s feeling. I view furniture companies more as partners than suppliers, people you can talk to and exchange knowledge and ideas with. "
“Furnishings are absolutely vital for how the facility is perceived; they give the environment it’s feeling. I view furniture companies more as partners than suppliers, people you can talk to and exchange knowledge and ideas with. Kinnarps have really lived up to our expectations in this department and made a big contribution with their Next Care© concept, which goes to show that they understand the special needs of care environments.”
Too good to be true? When asked whether everyone has pulled in the same direction from day one, Annika Lückner claims that there really haven’t been any problems along the way, though she does mention that it is a challenge to build an elderly care facility for SEK 300 million.
“We started discussing this as far back as in 2013. Renovating an existing residential care facility was one proposal, but demographic calculations showed that the building in question wouldn’t be enough. This gave us the incentive to build from scratch rather than fix and patch what we had.”
Annika Lückner continues: “Still, it’s a challenge to explain how this is an investment for the future, both in terms of life quality and economy. Our elders get a better home, our staff a more functional workplace and the municipality strengthens their employer brand.”
5 tips for municipalities in furnishing residential care facilities
Invest in collaboration from the very start. Work across professions, create engagement and bring in different perspectives, not least those of the nursing staff, to avoid missing out on important knowledge.
Think about furnishings early on. Don’t wait until the end of the process to start planning your interior design. Invite interior design companies early on in the process to discuss your vision. Evaluate and allow yourself to be aided by their expertise.
Procure the best solution. Formulate the procurement to focus on your vision. Don’t ask for the cheapest furniture but rather the most functional solution. Describe the feeling you want to bring about.
Think long-term, for everyone’s sake. Building a new residential care facility is a big investment, not least for small municipalities. It is important to get everyone to understand that quality is an investment that pays off on all levels.
Create a cosy feeling. Residential care facilities are places where people live. It’s their home. “Warm, homely and welcoming” are important keywords for creating sustainable, health-promoting care environments.