How can we encourage a more collaborative spirit, rather than “them vs. us,” when it comes to my mother’s nursing home staff? ? | Chicago Long-Term Care Planning Attorney Anthony B. Ferraro
First of all, for family members: When you first admit a loved one to a nursing home, you should get to know the staff. Let them know that you care about their well being (in addition to your loved one’s) and that you would like an open relationship so you all can discuss issues concerning your mother’s care. Inform them about pertinent information concerning her and her life — what she likes, dislikes, any habits she might have, typical moods, and what seems to work when approach her in different situations. The more her caregivers know, the better they can care for her. Compliment staff members when you learn about them doing something you like. Be involved at the facility as much as possible. Attend social events and family council meetings if you can. One good example of relationships being built very well involves a man who took a picture of his wife and the staff on her unit. He had an 8-by-10-inch shot of it made and wrote the name of each caregiver underneath it. When placed on his wife’s closet door, it served as an aid to helping her recognize the people taking care of her. It also made the staff members feel very included. It made them feel important and let them know that the family really cared about them. This gesture built a lot of good will and enhanced his wife’s care. To the staff: Don’t be intimidated by residents and/or their families. You are the frontline worker, an honorable position. Without you, there would be no care for their loved one. That is a compliment of the highest order. Show interest not only in the resident, but also his or her family. Introduce yourself and tell them a little bit about your background, your interests, how long you have been a caregiver and why you are in that line of work. When family members enter the unit, greet them cheerfully and give them information about their loved one, whether the news is good, bad or indifferent. What many caregivers don’t think to do is call a resident’s family if something good happens during the day. These are blessings that can be few and far between for family members, and they’ll go a long way. Unfortunately, there can be stigmas about nursing homes and their caregivers. For the most part, these workers are intent on doing a good job and truly care about what they do and who is in their charge. Everyone needs to work together to overcome negative stereotypes so residents will have positive experiences in their new home.