Ten Tips to Effective Communication with Facility Staff

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Ten Tips to Effective Communication with Facility Staff

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meeting-png-mdYou've recently moved your mom to an assisted living facility. You're working through the adjustment as best you can. Unfortunately, your mom's complaints begin to pile up: She eats breakfast too late. She waits too long for help. She hates her roommate.

What can you do to ensure your mom has what she needs?

These tips can help you communicate effectively with staff:

1. Remember that you and the facility staff are on the same team. It can be easy to feel that it's you versus them. Rather than rage war, work toward a solution. You really are on the same team. The staff wants your family member to receive good care, just like you do.

2. Vent out the emotions to a family member or friend, then speak with staff. You already have a lot of emotions (argh, the guilt when you leave after visiting) and when a problem arises, the guilt and worry and fear can go into overdrive. That's really stressful. When you're too stressed, you won't be able to think clearly. Vent out the emotions, then speak with staff.

3. Understand who can help you and then begin with him or her. When I was an admissions director in a nursing home, I suggested family members take concerns and worries to the facility social worker. I helped as I could but the social worker was armed with the clout to make things happen. Ask the facility administrator or executive director for suggestions on who can be your first contact when you have a problem.

4. Stay curious. Start from a place of "How can we make this better?" rather than of "You need to fix this!" A conversation that begins with a pointed finger will only go south. And, when you stay curious, you avoid assumptions. You'll want to understand the complete story in order to get to a solution that will work.

5. Make clear requests. Before you meet with staff, spend time thinking about what you want. Then clearly state it. And, be sure to confirm that everyone understands your requests.

6. Focus on the solution. If you focus solely on the problem, then you'll simply stay in the problem. Move the conversation toward a solution, being open to all solutions suggested.

7. Agree on a date when the solution will be implemented and on a day and time when you will follow up with staff about the solution. Then, be sure to follow up. If you still have concerns, then involve supervisors and facility management. If the facility is part of a chain, you also can contact the corporate offices. If your concerns continue, reach out to your state's long-term care ombudsman, an advocate for residents of nursing homes, board and care homes and assisted living facilities.

8. Be pleasant and friendly with the staff, offering compliments when you see their good work. You want to have a good relationship with the staff every day, not just on the days you need their help.

9. Visit often so you have relationships with the staff members. They'll know you and, more important, you'll know which staff members can really help. And, when the staff sees your commitment to your caree's care, they'll take their cue from you.

10. Attend all quarterly care plan meetings and become involved as a volunteer or through the facility's family council meetings. The time you spend with your caree and in the facility will help you understand the workings of the facility and how you can advocate effectively for your family member.

What communication tips would you add? Share yours in our comments section, below.

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