While long-term care facilities are equipped to handle the physical and emotional needs of their residents, research shows that family involvement is crucial for improving the quality of care for residents. No matter how meaningful the interactions between staff members and resident are, strong connections between family members and long-term residents should not be underestimated.
According to the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987, whenever someone is admitted to a long-term care facility, family members have a legal right to be involved in their love one’s care, unless the resident specifically denies this involvement. Though this act was designed to ensure that residents were receiving the highest quality of care within their facilities, it also emphasizes the emotional importance of familial involvement.
Hosting family nights, sending out periodic updates and simply encouraging regular involvement in a loved ones’ lives are all ways long-term care facilities can begin to strengthen this connection. While a frequent family presence is vital for residents’ success, certain research indicates that it can be beneficial for staff members as well.
“Family involvement is crucial for improving the quality of care for residents.”
Family involvement and dementia care
A 2007 study titled “Partners in caregiving in a special care environment: Cooperative communication between staff and families on dementia units” found that effective partnerships between family members and long-term care are critical for the quality of care of the residents with dementia.
This study involved 388 family members and 384 nursing staff workers from 20 different nursing homes and researchers studied the effects of a program designed to improve communication between these two groups in long-term dementia care facilities. All participants experienced positive outcomes as a result of being involved in the program, such as staff members reporting reduced burnout levels, fewer conflicts between staff and families, and improved symptoms of depression. According to the study, negative behavioral symptoms for residents decreased as well during this time.
Family involvement improves quality of care, but may increase familial guilt?
As we have mentioned previously, family visits and general involvement are important for improving the quality of care for residents and well-being of the staff members who work with them. Despite the obvious benefits, a research team from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill’s Program on Aging, Disability and Long-Term Care recently observed and analyzed the impact of a program called “Families Matter in Long-Term Care.” This program empowers staff and family members through workshop participation about how to get families more active in their loved ones’ care.
“Familial involvement is still extremely beneficial.”
The positive impacts of this program included improved worker and family partnerships, reduced staff burnout rates and better quality of life for the residents. While ideal, the researchers also found that families reported feeling more feelings of “guilt and conflict” as a result of being more aware of the impact they can have in the lives of their loved ones.
The researchers speculated that these feelings of guilt could be due to family members wondering whether there was more they could be doing for the people they love. Interestingly, the researchers also found that this program led to an increased likelihood of staff and family conflicts. This phenomenon could be because family members feel more authoritative on their loved ones’ quality of care, which could cause tension. Despite these shortcomings, the researchers concluded that familial involvement is still extremely beneficial for everyone.
To learn more about family member involvement in the care of your residents, take one of Mariposa Training’s long-term care courses, such as “Family Support: Helping Residents and Families Remain Connected” today!