Justification of Project Undertaking
SHE Clicks is a digital literacy programme that has been designed to teach women between the ages of 60 and 70 how to use e-services. The project aims to provide learners with basic knowledge of digital literacy and expand their options for battling idleness and loneliness in care homes. A study conducted by Gardiner et al. (2020) concludes that moderate loneliness in care homes ranges from 31 to 100 per cent, while severe loneliness ranges from 9 to 81 per cent. The adverse effects of loneliness and idleness have shot up since COVID-19 restrictions have been in place in care homes throughout the UK (Busby and Bannock, 2020).
Our company, CARE UK, believes that tackling these issues with care home residents is imperative to ensure long term customer satisfaction for residents and their families. Currently, the company is taking extreme preventive measures such as using Perspex screens, PPE equipment, and limited visiting timings. These measures have added a burden to CARE UK as revenues have fallen drastically since the first lockdown and raised costs of disposable PPE like gloves, masks, and gowns. On average, the cost of appropriate PPE per resident, per week has increased from £4 before the COVID-19 outbreak to £253 (McDonald, 2020).
Customer satisfaction is also low with many residents and their families complaining about not being able to see each other often due to the safety measures in place. Academics like Kinley et al. (2018) have noted that family perceptions of care in UK nursing care homes are low regarding last days of life, spiritual care, and idleness. Chou et al. (2001) assert that social interaction and its maintenance in residential care homes in the UK is an imperative factor in measuring and maintaining resident satisfaction.
To battle idleness and loneliness, CARE UK had activated a programme in which residents of our care homes were encouraged to connect with family and friends through their mobile phones or tablets. However, many of our residents were unable to use the devices. This is reflective of national statistics that show that 79 per cent of digital exclusion is found in people over the age of 65 in the UK (ONS, 2018). This exclusion is higher in women as they are less likely to use the Internet. The vast majority of our care home residents are unable to use their devices. Staff try their best to troubleshoot issues that residents may have but that cuts into staff time for other essential tasks like meal preparation, medication reminders, and hygiene maintenance. This also causes residents to become increasingly dependent on staff to navigate their devices for e-services like checking up on health insurance, filling online prescription refills, and booking online appointments with their doctors.
For CARE UK to survive in these relentless market conditions, improve customer satisfaction, and improve the wellbeing of our residents it is imperative to deploy creative measures that can tackle all our issues while improving our overall corporate strategy. In the long term, CARE UK aims to become an industry leader in the residential care of seniors in the UK by providing a befitting environment for our customers and keeping their families satisfied with our services. To become the market leader in this sector, the company must employ creative solutions.
To consider the potential of a project it is essential to analyse the options available. Under PRINCE2 methodology, consideration must be taken for; do nothing, do the minimum, and do something. The following are arguments for the available options for CARE UK.
Do Nothing - CARE UK continues with its existing ways. This option means that the company continues to bear excessive costs related to PPE equipment for both staff and residents. It also does not tackle the problem of customer idleness and loneliness. Family members of residents will continue to be dissatisfied with the COVID-19 measures in place.
Do the Minimum- The bare minimum to tackle this issue is to ask for more government help in terms of care loans and deferred payments. This will give the company some breathing space with its finances but it does not provide a solution for customer satisfaction. Our female residents are the loneliest and complain they miss their families. The social inclusion programme in place does not satisfy our residents and COVID-19 restrictions are making it difficult to take residents on day trips, go out for walks, and do other social activities. The company will incur more significant losses if residents decide to not renew their contracts or continue being provided services from CARE UK.
Do Something - Start a training programme for women between 60 and 70. The training programme will be conducted in batches of 15 residents in our care homes in Luton, with 1 hour spent a day training women in the ways of digital literacy. This will provide our residents with social interaction and the excitement of learning something new!
Women are more willing to learn and interact. This will give them an outlet to connect with others and gain the skills to stay in touch with their families and retain their independence. This programme is expected to increase our profitability which will be calculated 6 months after the conclusion of the programme. If the programme is a success, it can be integrated into our social programs across all our residential care homes throughout the UK. Therefore, the third option of doing something is more profitable, in line with corporate strategic goals, and makes the company unique with its services.
CARE UK plans to teach women between the ages of 60 – 70 how to use digital devices to access e-services. The programme is targeted toward women in our residential care homes in the Luton area.
CARE UK prides itself on being an industry leader. COVID-19 outbreak has hampered the industry immensely putting us in financial straits. Through the SHE CLICKS programme we plan to;
Improve social interaction among residents.
Reduce idleness and loneliness among residents of our care homes.
Make living in our care homes more attractive with added programs that keep our residents independent and involved.
Reduce dissatisfaction of residents and their families with our COVID-19 safety measures.
Increase revenue with added amenities to attract more customers.
The programme shows immense potential and a great return on investment. The following are some expected benefits of project completion.
Improvement of revenues and added services to CARE UK residential care homes.
Building a learners’ community for senior citizens in the UK.
Increased social inclusion of senior women in the online space.
Decrease of loneliness, idleness, and increased customer satisfaction.
Increased wellness of residents in care homes.
Possible partnership with non-government organisations and government organisations to make the programme countrywide.
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Dis-benefits can be direct consequences of the project that can negatively impact CARE UK. It can also not be in the interest of our identified stakeholders. The following are potential dis-benefits of the project;
The company’s budget is further stressed and there is no return on investment.
Senior women are not interested in participating in the program.
Decreased productivity of our staff while the project is initiated.
Stakeholder management is a critical component of the project process. It begins by identifying the key stakeholders in the project and winning their support. A comprehensive list of stakeholders identified for the project has been added to the stakeholder matrix (see figure 1). Stakeholders are identified and prioritized on the stakeholder map according to their power and interest in the project. The stakeholder map has been adapted from Mendelow (1981), positions are allocated to the identified stakeholders based on their power and interest in the project. Those stakeholders with high power and high interest need to be managed closely. These include the project team members, CEO of the company, financial advisor, the UK government, and the National Health Service (NHS). The project manager and the project sponsor will work closely with these stakeholders by devising a management plan that keeps them in the loop of the progress of the project and they will be actively involved in ensuring project success.
Stakeholders with high power and less interest are meant to be satisfied. The project has identified such stakeholders are being the project sponsor, current customers, customer families, shareholders, lenders, and board members. Enough work will be needed to keep these stakeholders satisfied without making their board for the project or its message. Other stakeholders included in the analysis are those of low power, highly interested people that need to be kept informed. Stakeholders include the media, the community, the public, and future staff recruits. Lastly, low power and less interested people need to be monitored. This includes investors, interest groups, home care staff, and future customers.
In light of the stakeholder analysis, and effective stakeholder management plan has been devised in which all stakeholders are accounted for. The stakeholder management plan outlines the expected involvement of each stakeholder, the potential issues that may arise from them, their motivation for being invested in the project, and their expected inputs. The stakeholder management plan (see Appendix 2) highlights the activities that will impact the identified stakeholders and assigns project team members to cater to their needs.
Major risk CARE the UK is taking to train its residents are any sort of ailments related to falls or accidents. The company will ensure that residents are transported to the training facility with care and caution. There is a risk related to age that the senior learners may not grasp the concepts, related to low cognitive function. There is also a risk that the learners may contract COVID-19. Hence, the learners will only be allowed to participate if they have been given a vaccine.
Before assigning roles and responsibilities to team members, the Belbin personality test was used to thoroughly understand each member’s personality type. Based on the results members were assigned their team roles and responsibilities were outlined. The project manager Haseeb is categorized as ‘coordinator’ and ‘implementer’. The project sponsor, Issac was categorized as ‘monitor-evaluator’, Poojas was categorized as ‘completer/finisher’, Jayvik as ‘resource investigator’, and Samayaben as ‘specialist’, Athira as ‘shaper’, and Aashish as ‘the plant’. Each of the roles is based on personality types that have been displayed in the figure below.
To ensure quality is maintained throughout the project lifecycle, a quality register was maintained. This register outlines all the milestones and deliverables of the project. The quality assurance officer is responsible for maintaining the quality register using quality methods like documentation review, inspections, and observations.
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Projects are not easy to manage with a strong team, appropriate planning, and effective communication. This project was difficult to execute with numerous project tasks and sub-tasks. One of the most difficult aspects of the project was to keep it within budget and on schedule. Thankfully, both were accomplished. A major lesson learned from this project is never to treat tasks at face value. They may look extremely easy on paper but once execution is started it becomes difficult to manage their scope. A key factor to ensure project success is communication. Without appropriate means of communication, it is difficult to handle a project, especially for a project sponsor and administrator. The administrative task of the project was not something that was assigned to me in the beginning. Once the project was approved and started my primary role was as a training administrator. However, managing the project sponsor role was getting difficult for a teammate and so I took it on a secondary role.
It has been a learning curve. I came into this project with just subjective principles and theories. This project has taught me a real-life application of project management concepts. The role of a project manager and a project sponsor is burdensome. These roles are not meant for people that are not disciplined to stick to a schedule and manage time. I have a newfound appreciation for these roles, in fact for all project roles. Teams that work together to take a project to success have immense disciple, keen insight, and are quick decision-makers.
One hard skill that I learned from this project was the application of PRINCE2. I’ve learned to research for data and organize my thinking to justify the initiation of the project. The methodology of PRINCE2 is not limited to just learning how to make a risk register, network diagram, or quality register. The PRINCE2 methodology is a mindset. It is extremely detailed and forces an individual that is applying it to zoom into the details of the project. Another hard skill from the PRINCE2 project management process that I learned is critical path analysis. I’ve learned how to apply the network diagram by using the forward pass and backward pass calculation. In doing so I was better able to understand slack and float. It also taught me to better schedule tasks to ensure there is space for their completion. There was still a critical path identified which made it necessary to complete those path tasks on time.
The project also taught me many soft skills. The first soft skill I learned was leading and communicating. The business world is highly competitive and if you do not find your voice you can lead you to end up being a follower. Being a follower is not necessarily bad, but I feel my personality does not suit it. As a woman, many people assume that I can easily blend into the follower category. However, I found this to be not true while conducting the project with my teammates. I learned to find my voice as a woman without fearing retaliation from team members. Working with the project manager on this, Haseeb Bin Saleem, was an interesting partnership. Since he was the project manager, he had greater authority.
But as the administrator, I made sure to make my needs and requirements heard. Also, ensure that I was a participant throughout the project and made myself available to team members who can easily approach me for advice if they were struggling. The project also taught me the soft skill of participating as a team. This meant being in sync with everyone in terms of ideas and goals. It is not easy trusting people with a task when you have very little interaction with them. The project helped me to get to know my classmates a lot more and also helped me with building trust, not just with others but with my authority. As one of the leaders of the project, I needed to trust that my teammates would complete a task if I asked them to. It also taught me to exert authority respectably when I feel someone is slacking behind.
These are important values that need to be polished before stepping into a corporate environment. This project has allowed me to practice both these hard skills and soft skills as I get ready to obtain a leadership position in a highly energized and competitive corporate environment. The project allowed me to get a glimmer of some of the requirements of a project manager. I may consider this as a career option because I enjoyed every step of the project. After completing this project, I can now update my curriculum vitae to include skills such as PRINCE2, project scheduling, project cost analysis, critical thinking, team player, and communication manager. I’ve learned to improve my communication skills to ensure that all stakeholders are on board with a project.
This project was far from perfect. There are major areas that need to be improved and I will work on them to ensure that I am better prepared for another project. To complete the project on time, there was major overlapping of project tasks. For example, marketing, hiring curriculum developers & trainers, and finding and setting up a venue were occurring simultaneously. The purpose of scheduling these major task umbrellas around the same time was to cut down on the project time. It seemed like a good idea but once the implementation phase started things were becoming hectic to manage. A better strategy that I would like to implement in a future project would be a step-by-step strategy that allows project team members to complete tasks in an orderly fashion. For future projects, it would be better to first understand the effort that each resource will need to complete a task. Then based on the percentage of effort the tasks should be scheduled.
For future projects, I will be more prepared with a grasp of project management software like MS Project. It helped make the Gantt chart for this project but it needs to be studied in-depth to better understand the options it has available. I believe in future projects there needs to be a wider variety of software that needs to be included in the project for scheduling, budgeting, risk management, and quality management.
AXELOS. 2017. PRINCE2 Handbook (Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE). The Stationary Office: Norwich, UK.
Busby, M., and Bannock, C. 2020. The Could Die of Loneliness: How COVID Policies Impact Care Homes. The Guardian. [Online] Accessed: 13th August 2021, Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/sep/14/they-could-die-of-loneliness-how-covid-policies-impact-care-homes.
Chou, S. C., Boldy, D. P., Lee, A. H., 2001. Measuring Resident Satisfaction in Residential Aged Care. The Gerontologist, 41 (5), pp. 623-631.
Gardiner, C., Laud, P., Heaton, T., Gott, M. 2020. What is the Prevalence of Loneliness amongst Older People Living in Residential and Nursing Care Homes? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Age and Ageing, pp. 1 – 10.
Kinley, J., Hockley, J., Stone, L., 2018. Family Perception of Care at the End of Life in UK Nursing Care Homes. Journal of Research in Nursing, 23(2-3), pp. 203 – 217.
McDonald, H. 2020. Higher PPE Costs of Care Homes Passed on to Clients, UK Charity Says. The Guardian. [Online] Accessed: 13th September 2021, Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/may/04/higher-ppe-costs-of-care-homes-passed-on-to-clients-uk-charity-warns.
Office for National Statistics. 2018. Internet Users. [online] Accessed: 14 September 2021, Retrieved from https://www.ons.gov.uk/businessindustryandtrade/itandinternetindustry/datasets/internetusers.
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