How Can Families of Nursing Home Residents be Better Informed?

How Can Families of Nursing Home Residents be Better InformedHow Can Families of Nursing Home Residents be Better Informed?

Last April, we discussed how your clients could go about addressing resident family concerns in nursing homes. We stressed that for many families, placing their elderly loved ones in a nursing home or assisted living facility is a huge step that takes careful consideration. But the responsibility shouldn’t end once the resident is secured in your clients’ facility. In fact, maintaining a relationship with the families of your residents could help to prevent difficult situations such as conflicts over treatment and other care issues, and thus potentially limit your nursing home liability risks.

According to an article published on, there are a few things that can be done to prevent or reduce disagreements over care, and thus decrease the likelihood that a volatile situation will result in legal action. Eleanor Feldman Barbera, PhD, offers the following ideas on how to do so.

Have a system in place that allows family to be part of the residents’ treatment team. This can of course be a challenge since many family members tend to visit in the evenings and weekends, or visit infrequently, when the administrative and day shift workers are no longer at the facility. However one option could be inviting relatives to meetings via a video chat or conference call and including 1 or 2 key staff members that regularly work with that particular resident.

Ensure that families are educated about their loved one’s illnesses. This can be as simple as having brochures in the nursing home lobby pertaining to common ailments that plague the senior community, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Arthritis, etc.

Offer support to family members who are stressed or grieving over their loved one’s decline in health or behavior. Many times, admissions into long-term care facilities and nursing homes are caused by a health crisis. Oftentimes people are caught off guard when it comes to admitting a senior loved one to a nursing home, and should be met with sensitivity to the situation. Perhaps new families can be given contact information of experience family members who would be willing to show them the ropes regarding what it means to become part of your nursing home community.

Offer ways for families to be useful in treatment. Many times, family members simply want to help, however they don’t know how. If you are able to give them a role, this can divert them away from feeling ignored or feeling as though their loved one is not receiving the care they should. Different types of roles you could give families include something as fun as decorating the resident’s room to joining in recreational activities within your facility with the resident.

These are not the only things you and your staff can do to ensure that families of nursing home residents are better informed and feel involved in their loved ones’ care. It’s also important to recognize that sometimes families simply have a right to fight. Most, if not all, of the time family members are the best advocate for their senior loved ones’ care. They are the people that spend the most time with that senior resident and they are the ones that know their health history and can communicate better than the elderly person in many ways.

At DigniCARE, we are focused on the wellbeing and care of your nursing home residents. We offer Senior Care Risk Management programs including Nursing Home Liability Insurance, and coverage for Independent Living Facilities, Assisted Living, and Continued Care Retirement Communities. Please contact us today for more information at (855) 883-6306. 

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