Why Smart Nursing Homes Want Family Councils

Facilities should not have to be "convinced" to support family councils, because the law states that long-term care facilities "must protect and promote the rights of each resident." Included in those rights, is the right of residents' families to meet as a group in a private area, and to have the facility listen and respond to concerns that are raised.

Nursing homes that hold residents' quality of life as their first priority, recognize that a resident cannot be viewed separately from his/her family. The lifelong connections and relationships are integral parts of a resident's identity. Often, family members are the primary spokesmen for the resident. As consumers, families deserve to be heard.

If facilities intend to keep-up with advances in the field of long-term care, then the implementation of Pioneer Practices will also be a priority. Included in the Pioneer Practice paradigm shift is the mindset of putting decision-making power back into the hands of the residents and their families. Family councils give families power to make a difference.

Family members who feel that the nursing home listens to and takes their concerns seriously, are more positive about the home. They are more likely to recommend the home to other people, even if they are not completely satisfied with its services. Open communication lines between the family council and administration reassure family members that change can be made to increase the quality of care. In other words -- free marketing, from a reliable source.

Facility administrators who understand the importance of a family council and who support, encourage and aid a council are critical to a council's success. The attitude of the facility administrator sets the tone for all facility staff and an informed and enthusiastic administrator can be key in soliciting support from the corporation or the governing board.

The establishment of family councils: good business practice includes it, the law requires it, and consumers demand it.

So why don't facilities do it? Often, facilities fear family councils. Facilities believe that with such a forum for families, the facility will only be overwhelmed with complaints. Facilities dread the headache of a "gripe session." Though many family councils may begin with endless lists of individual concerns, with the proper support and guidance, the council can move to the next phase of taking action, cooperating with staff and making changes for the better.