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Posted: July 13, 2005

Professional Caregiving

Put a Fresh Face on Your Facility by Inviting Participation

Whether you are a nursing home administrator, adult day service director, in-home agency manager, assisted living director, the following invitation to your caregiver community will go a long way to securing healthy relationships between your facility and the the people around you.

Essentially, you are inviting them to be well informed, involved and perceptive when visiting your care setting. Afterall, you have nothing to hide and you want them to know it.

Ask the families and friends of your clients to:

  1. Get on a first name basis with the staff at your facility. The better you know the hired caregivers, the better they learn about you and your family member. A heightened familiarity with each other can minimize unnecessary friction and more importantly, establish a relationship of respect and trust which is critical in the work we do.
  2. Request a meeting with the staff to talk about your family member as a person, not a resident.  Ask them to tell your staff the new patient’s history. Your staff will be better able to care for the resident when the family context is known. This is also the time to focus on the Person Centered Care questions such as: what are their interests? Dislikes? Preferences? Moods? Include also some of the significant details from childhood to present, important markers, and experiences. The more your staff know the detail, the better they can relate to them and develop meaningful activities for them throughout the day. Really, its more than activities…  it’s the quality of their lives that depends on the familiarity your staff has with each person for whom they care.
  3. Share what their hopes and expectations are for care in your setting. This will help you understand what they are seeking. None of us are mind readers, and if we don’t ask the family, we have not done our job. For example, some families want a lot of communication between the facility and themselves. Others only want information or contact at critical times.  This also gives you an opportunity to provide honest feedback to what are realistic expectations that can be met.
  4. Attend all care plan sessions. Provide a copy of the care plan schedule as it is developed, as far ahead of time as possible, so they can be present. A call the day before a meeting may not give them the flexibility to show up. Using conference calling or a speaker phone is a way to accommodate a long distance or employed caregiver while still including them in the care session. These meetings can give the caregiver the utmost confidence in the quality of your staff and the intent of their actions as they relate to your family member’s day to day reality.
  5. Visit frequently at all times of the day and week. This invitation demonstrates your comfort with the staffing, and activity scheduling at your facility. This is a way to say you want their presence, you want your entire team, the night shift, the weekend staff to know them too, for the same reasons as you read in #1. Familiarity breeds trust.
  6. Consider giving the patient a volunteer role,  pooling their talents and interests of the caregivers might encourage them to play a role in programming. Maybe they play an instrument? Lead exercise classes? Sing? Paint?
  7. Help problem solve if there is an issue. Is there a resident family council?  Roommate problems? Scheduled activities not engaging? Food complaints? The invitation to be part of the solution is a good role for a family member who is very involved in their family member's care.
  8. Provide your resident’s family members with a way to share questions/suggestions…  by email, by chat room on your facility’s web site, or most simply, a spiral notebook in which they can jot down observations, suggestions, changes when they come to visit. This notebook can be left in the client’s room and made available to the care staff, inviting them to share their observations, questions and ideas. In this manner the staff know what their family members are seeing and it closes the communication loop for the other staff who may not be present during the family member’s visit. More communication is always better than less!

These are just a few invitations to family caregivers that demonstrate your interest in a partnership with them, as a means to ensure excellent care.


Sylvia Nissenboim is a licensed clinical social worker and who has been working in the field of adult day services in the St. Louis area. She is the director of four adult care and enrichment centers for the American Red Cross and also operates a personal and professional coaching firm, LifeWork Transitions, specializing in caregiving concerns, adult day care management and other aging services, such as virtual coaching and family care giving support groups. She co-authored The Positive Interactions Program, is a national speaker, and has served as president of the Missouri Adult Day Care Association and as a member of the Missouri Governor's Advisory Council on Aging..

© 2005 Pederson Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Commercial use, redistribution or other forms of reuse of this information is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission of Pederson Publishing.

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