Matia Foundation is a non-profit organisation and a reference in the care of elderly and dependent people, located in the Basque country and in Europe. It all started in 1881 when the Basque merchant ship owner José Maria Calvo decided to bequeath his property to the care of elderly and dependant people. Since then, reading about the organisation’s history is following the development of the most advanced trends in care: from the compassionate 19th century charity to the 21st century philosophy, marked by a commitment to R&D and by a protocol on care with a comprehensive approach that focuses on the characteristics and circumstances of each individual.
Today, the Matia Group has an annual turnover of 40 million Euros and manages a complex and comprehensive network composed of the Ricardo Bermingham Hospital, the hospital of reference for medium stay (118 beds), seven residential centres (four owned and three public), five day-care centres, seven outpatient rehabilitation clinics, a centre for social resources and other specialised care units for the disabled, in addition to one unit specialised in memory loss and Alzheimer, a gerontological counselling service and other external consultations. The commitment to R&D, their trademark, materialised mainly from 2002 with the creation of the Matia Gerontological Institute and in 2012, with the establishment of the Pole Foundation for Innovation in Ageing which brings together 5 Basque companies leader in their sectors, such as Euskaltel or the Gipuzkoa Polyclinic.
The prestige of the Foundation is huge and it is not certain that the Matia Foundation could have undergone a cost management plan in a more favourable context. “With hindsight, I would say yes as the positive results were evident, especially for certain items” says the Foundation CFO, Raquel Lázaro. “But the truth is that when the opportunity came to collaborate with Expense Reduction Analysts we were in difficult economic circumstances. We had just opened two new centres that were generating debts and we were facing a personnel restructure. At the time, we were open to welcoming any major economic improvement that could arise.”
Looking back, there was a huge amount of work achieved. The detailed study and the implementation of cost-saving measures in ten cost categories were undertaken over a period of around 12 months. The first meeting was in July 2012. “Initially, it was not easy to sell internally what we were planning to do. We did not want it to look like an audit of purchases or that we were going to judge anyone, because it was not about that”, explains Luis Lozón, Client Manager at Expense Reduction Analysts for this project. The collaboration and involvement of Diana Artola, Purchasing Manager, was indispensable to enable the fulfilment of the savings project. “Personally, I was surprised that one single person could take on so much work. On some occasions, I had to explain that it was normal to find significant savings in some categories, as our expertise allows us to dedicate ourselves to a specific subject. Diana, given the huge amount of work that is carried out in such a variety of purchases, has been doing a brilliant job”.
People for people
Lázaro equally highlights the work of Lozón as one of the keys to the success of the cost savings plan. “His professionalism has been incredible. He has captured the very essence of Matia. He has shown great sensitivity and passed it on to the rest of the team. Lozón has soon understood that it was not just about figures with this client. There is certain sensitivity in the Foundation. We are people who work with other people, and we are very sensitive to anything that can affect the patients or our colleagues” she explains.
The expert in cost reduction started the project by raising two key questions: What did they expect from working together with an external consultant? To which they replied that they expected to have a feeling of trust, that the problems would not accumulate and that the means would not justify the end. And also, that his collaborators would be methodological and organised, says Lozón. The second question was about what was for them a successful cost reduction project: expected savings but without compromising on quality or on the relationship with the usual suppliers who are considered as partners.
Some categories were settled quite simply e.g. telecommunications. “In the case of telecommunications, says Lázaro, seeing is believing. We are aware that we do not have the purchasing power that Expense Reduction Analysts possesses". The supplier improved the commercial offer and maintained the other terms of the contract. The most problematic areas were those affecting smaller categories, but with a direct influence on the client. “There are categories for which the user is very sensitive to any changes, and with which we need to work in the long term”, she says. This is the case with the products for personal hygiene or moisturising as the skin of older people is in general very delicate. In all cases, the Foundation has been happy and satisfied with the completion of the project.
Food is among the “sensitive” categories. The Matia executives expressed their concern about this category in a list of answers that were given to Lozón. The expert understood that it was a category very important to the client and decided to take personal responsibility for the analysis of the catering and dry food categories. “I worked in great detail for this. We could not take any chances” he recalls.
As Lázaro explains, nutrition has a biological effect as well as psychological. She says that her patients need not only to be well fed, but also to be served well presented dishes. To introduce new tastes and new routines is not something that can be implemented quickly, but as part of a process.