When families move someone they love into a residential aged care setting, it is almost always done grudgingly and with lots of emotions attached. While they will have accepted that it might be ‘the best thing’, at some level they remain on high alert for either confirmation that it was the ‘right thing’ or worse confirmation that they really are a bad daughter, son, sister etc. How this transition is handled by facility staff sets the scene for the future relationship with the family and can and does in many cases impact future complaints.
At TriCare we work hard to make sure that our families feel not only connected to us but feel confident that they and their loved one has a voice in their care.
Bernadette Bradford, Regional Client Services Coordinator, speaks with many families as they make the decision to place a family member into residential aged care. She tells us that families are always concerned with what actually happens on a day to day basis when someone is in care and that they need reassurance that residents will be encouraged to remain active and engaged once in care.
Most importantly she says, “Families need simple resources and information that help to step them through the admission process and the first days of any residency in a systematic way … something that they can refer back to once they are home.”
Therefore, we believe that the top three things that our families need from us are:
Establishing how and who is involved in the communication about the resident at admission, can save a lot of problems and confusion later on. Being clear with the family as to when you will communicate as well as how and why, helps to set realistic expectations. As does establishing a constant point of contact that is available to families. Whether this contact is by email or by phone or by appointment, knowing that there is an agreed process for two way communication can and does provide families with the reassurance that they are an active partner in the care of their loved one.
Judy Carter, Manager of TriCare’s Cypress Gardens Aged Care Residence says, “Sometimes families are so overwhelmed during the admission process that the information they receive isn’t always retained. This is why it is so important to have good written resources to provide to people in the early days and to also agree with them a future process for communication that takes into account family concerns and accommodates the busy demands of running a quality aged care service.”
Too often, people try to avoid answering questions or do so in minimising ways. While sometimes, this is well intentioned, the message it actually sends to families is that there is something going on that they may not want them to know about. Families are always going to be on high alert to the care that their loved one is receiving. If they sense the slightest issue, they will naturally become suspicious. Providing good quality, honest information is always going to be the best policy.
Karen Martin of McLean’s Way, works with families and older people who are making the transition to aged care. She says. “People are looking for honest information. They don’t want to be ‘sold to’ what they want to know is what is happening, why and how it impacts. Most people understand that the world isn’t perfect and are happy to partner with aged care services but do have a low tolerance when they feel that the information that they are receiving is flawed.”
If you commit to a plan of action with a family then always make sure that, that plan is followed up. It is a constant source of frustration to families to attend case conferences or have discussions with facility staff only to find out on their next visit that the things that were agreed upon haven’t happened or worse the opposite had happened. This is a really fast way to get families ‘off-side’ very quickly and for small matters to become very large complaints. Once things have been actioned it’s important to communicate these actions and their impacts to the family so that they continue to have trust that their family member is in good hands.
For more information about the Residential Aged Care Accommodation and Services offered by TriCare, call us on 1300 TRICARE to speak with one of our Client Services Specialists available 24/7.