By Caitlin Goodwin Australia
The family plays a vital role in the health and well-being of the elderly. Supporting family members to become more involved in their loved one's life can benefit clients tremendously.
Some family members want to be actively involved; others may not. Sometimes, family members experience barriers such as responsibilities with children, demanding careers, and geographical distance which prevent them spending as much time as they would like to with their loved one. Even when they are able to be present, they may also struggle with understanding the confusing terminology or feeling isolated from their loved one's care.
It is important to support family members and provide them with the opportunity to maintain a close relationship with their loved one.
Family members and their visits are important to both the facility and their loved ones. We can provide support for family members with the following strategies:
Make sure family members understand the plan of care for their family member. Provide educational resources and use clear language.
Work with your facility to make sure that clients can participate in family activities or invite loved ones to facility social events.
Be helpful, kind, and friendly. Family members who feel unwelcome around staff members will avoid coming to the facility.
Where possible, consider using technology, such as WhatsApp, to help clients keep in contact with relatives anywhere in the world.
1 on 1 Time
Watching your loved one slip away can be very painful. Loved ones are less likely to visit the facility if their family member loses cognition or memory. Spend some time providing support to family members, particularly if they are upset about their loved one's memory loss. Provide them with a listening ear when they need it most.
Ask for family members to be facility volunteers! If you feel uncomfortable asking directly, put an ad in your newsletter or post a flyer in the main living area for family members to see.
Invite family members to facility events, volunteer opportunities, or anything that seems to interest them. If they show an interest in assisting with their loved one's care, encourage it! Maybe Martha needs her make-up done or Wesley would enjoy dining with his granddaughter. Just make sure that both the client and family member are comfortable and you are following your facility's rules.
Consider a BBQ or luncheon, where you could invite the family members and close relatives to enjoy a cozy meal with everyone.
When the family feels comfortable at a facility, the benefits are clear for the client, family, and staff satisfaction. Strive to include families in special events to promote quality time with their loved ones. Make sure to invite their family to the following activities: