Good communication is a crucial ingredient in any relationship. Effective communication with assisted living community staff can better help you understand the care your loved one receives, appreciate what the assisted living facility staff does daily and gain you some peace of mind. Let these seven best practices be your guide to building a partnership with your assisted living senior care team.
- Introduce your loved one to the staff. Share some personal details about your parents’ family history, hobbies, likes and dislikes and other helpful information. This will create empathy and appreciation of your assisted living resident as a unique and well-loved individual, deepen your trust with the staff members, and allow for more personalized care.
- Get to know the assisted living team. Try to visit your loved one at various times of day so you meet staff on different shifts. Stop by the front desk or the staff station to say hello and meet as many staff members as possible. A small, non-financial hello gift, such as cut flowers from your garden signals you come as friend, not foe. Make a point to learn their names and roles. Try not to focus every conversation solely on your loved one and express appreciation and personal interest in them. By having deeper, more personal conversations, you’ll develop closer relationships with those caring for your loved one.
- Listen actively to staff members. If you aren’t certain you’ve understood correctly, ask for a clarification or more detail. This will minimize potential miscommunication and show the staff you care enough to first seek to understand. Make sure your tone and words are consistent with that intent.
- Be honest. It is vital to be honest with assisted living staff members if you are to inspire open lines of communication. Do not hesitate to express your concerns and needs about your parents’ care but do so in a non-accusatory manner and ask for their input into possible solutions. Treat staff members as valued partners in providing the best care for your loved one. Remember to attack the problem, not a person.
- Participate actively. Typically, Plan of Care meetings are held regularly to review each resident’s care needs, with representatives from each department present to share updates on care and adjust care plans as needed, with your input. Use this time to further connect with staff and strengthen your partnership.
- Communicate directly but know when to escalate. When possible, ask questions and address minor concerns with the staff member directly involved in the aspect of care in question first, before contacting the supervisor.However, any time you feel your loved one’s safety or well-being is at risk, it’s appropriate to bring the issue to the attention of the administrator or another senior staff member immediately.
- Progress not perfection. Minor misunderstandings are an inevitable part of any new relationship. Give the staff time to get to know your loved one, and meanwhile, invest time to become familiar with the culture of the assisted living community yourself.
Most staff members at senior living communities are genuinely kind and strive to provide the best care possible. When issues arise, most problems can be resolved with a little patience, honest respectful dialogue, and mutual understanding.