Some great strategies to ensure a positive outcome and fulfilling experience for everyone involved.
Moving is stressful to everyone. Moving a loved one into a long term care home or assisted living community can be an emotionally charged time for both the resident and their family. These emotions can have a negative impact on the relationships with the care team at the home. Developing a positive relationship with the homes care team can lead to a fulfilling experience for both the resident and their family.
1. Get to Know the Care Team
• Get to know the care team. In Long term care homes and assisted living communities there are multiple team members with different responsibilities including personal support workers who provide most of the care, registered nurses, an administrator, director of care, social worker, physio therapist and a recreation aide. Take the time to know the team members roles and responsibilities and how they can help to improve your loved ones quality of life.
• Identify a primary contact at the facility. If you have a chief contact and advocate for your family member your job will be that much easier. They will often be able to address many of your questions and concerns or, if not, then know where to direct you. The obvious choice is a staff member who has daily contact with your family member and is most apt to develop a genuine relationship with him or her.
Communication is essential for working effectively with people. This is particularly true when you’re feeling stressed or tense, which is not uncommon when you’re concerned about a loved one in a care home. Listening and communicating your needs and observations in a manner that can be heard by the staff. If you’re courteous and practice good communication skills a good rapport will develop and will usually result in a positive outcome.
• Ask Questions Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Get to know your loved ones community and what services are available. Problems sometimes arise when family members are hesitant to ask questions. Families are afraid to ask questions because they fear it will reflect poorly on their loved one, that their loved one will not get the care they deserve. Most homes want families to ask questions, to become educated about the community, and create opportunities for this to happen, but family members often don’t take advantage of these opportunities. Be prepared. Think about what it is you need to know and write down your questions beforehand so whether you’re in a group setting or one-on-one with your primary contact, you’re prepared and can then really focus on the information given to you.
• Active Listening Many times people don’t listen closely to what is actually being said to them (especially if the information is difficult to hear). Instead they’re distracted with other thoughts or more concerned about what they’re going to say next. If, however, you make a conscious effort to listen and try to understand what is being said, you’ll be in a much better position to develop a real rapport with that person. Actively listening involves summarizing what the person just told you so it’s clear you understand them, show your comprehension, and help create dialogue. It also means putting yourself in their shoes when trying to hear their point of view.
• Avoid Communication Stoppers Most of us already know this, but there are a number of things you simply should avoid saying. These include name calling, blaming, jumping to conclusions and giving unheeded advice. Instead, frame your concerns with non-threatening phrases like “it concerns me…” or “I understand what you’re saying…” or “what if we tried a different approach…”
3. Help Staff Get to Know Your Loved One
Many caregivers say that one of the most satisfying aspects of their job is the relationships they develop with the residents in their care. It’s very common to hear caregivers and other staff refer to many of their residents as “family”. When a caregiver develops a genuine relationship with a resident the care provided is enhanced and personalized resulting in improved quality of life for the resident.
Family members can help foster these relationships by helping the caregivers get to know your loved ones life history. It’s important they know where they were born, where they work, there hobbies and family member’s names… The caregivers will see not just a resident but a person with unique talents, dreams and hobbies. Consider putting together a memory box of items or a story book that let the caregivers know a little about your loved ones life.
Take the time to get to know the primary care givers. Not just their names but where they are from, their children and their dreams. Give positive feedback and say thank you when a caregiver goes above and beyond the call of duty for your loved one. Fostering an authentic relationship with the team results in a positive working environment for the caregivers, resulting in happier caregivers and happier residents.