What Do Family Councils Do?

Family councils meet once a month, usually for an hour, and stick to an agenda. There are reports and discussions of old business, followed by new business (including current care concerns). The education topic is introduced and discussed, ending with an agreement on the next meeting date and topic. Although a group can be as informal or formal as its members want, councils work best if they have a meeting topic, and stick to it.

Family councils often have a bulletin board that can be viewed by all visitors, residents, and staff, and communicates their bylaws, mission statement, and meeting minutes. This is how the family council makes its purpose clear to everyone at the nursing home.

Family councils submit council action forms to the facility when shared concerns have been identified. Written concerns provide documentation of family council action, and press the nursing home to respond.

Family councils engage in a variety of activities, depending upon the needs of the residents and experience of the council members. Family council successes have included:

  • Concern about mouth care resulted in a staff in-service training 
  • Improved staffing assignments and stopped staff rotation 
  • Surveyed family members about concerns, issued a report, and met with management and regional corporate representatives 
  • Required staff to put date/time on resident disposable briefs when changed 
  • Getting towelettes to direct staff to wipe residents' hands at meals 
  • Grievance/commendation forms at each nurses' station and drinks at each bedside 
  • Sponsored staff appreciation and educational programs 
  • Worked out billing/delivery issues with the facility pharmacy representative for nursing home 
  • Family council notice board, and notice of the family council in admission packets 
  • Notebook list of concerns, date addressed, plans by the facility to rectify/resolve the issue, and date of completion - the council reviews the list monthly for continuation 
  • Developed a program to provide support to families during a resident's dying process 
  • Coordinated specific food quality concerns with family councils of sister homes to press the nursing home corporation to change these food vendors 
  • Decreased overall sodium intake by convincing the dietary department to wash canned vegetables with fresh water 
  • Changed marketing brochures to more accurately describe the nursing home