A transition to an assisted living or long-term care community can be difficult for family members. You may experience overwhelming emotions related to the move itself, from selecting the best community for your loved one, dealing with family members, navigating social security, Medicare, Medicaid and a plethora of other issues. And, once the move is complete, you may feel no longer in control of your aging parent’s care.
We’ve previously discussed why open, two-way communication with the staff is important to your loved one’s care here and here. Unfortunately, many family members choose not to communicate their expectations or concerns early on, as they try to find their footing and establish a positive working relationship with the staff. It’s important to remember, you’re not alone. Families working together can provide each other with support, share experiences, and seek solutions to common problems. That’s why many senior living communities have formal family councils - organizations run by and for families and friends of senior living residents.
At our assisted living community, The Medallion, family members gather on Zoom every month. This supportive network provides a way for residents’ families to meet each other in a safe environment, be more involved with the care of their loved ones, and offer peer support for the relatives of residents, especially if they live out of town.
The council also provides a formal forum for communicating with the staff on behalf of all residents and their families, beyond individual care plan meetings, email updates and quarterly newsletters. In addition to families-only discussion, each month The Medallion’s Family Council invites different department heads to explain their responsibilities, how their departments operate and gain families’ feedback for planned programs and initiatives. Conducted in an open, friendly atmosphere, families can ask questions, discuss their concerns, and offer suggestions and ideas. Both groups get to know each other better, which leads to more open communication in the future.
An effective family council can greatly enhance your relationship with your loved one’s care team and give you a much-needed peace of mind. If you’re just touring prospective communities, it’s a good idea to ask whether a family council is already in place. If your loved one’s senior community does not have one yet, now may be the time to create one.