If your loved one is living in an assisted living community, it’s important for you to stay involved as their family member and advocate. Sometimes, you will need to be their voice when it comes to sharing their needs with the staff and caregivers of the community. In order to make sure that your loved one’s needs are being met, you need to know how to communicate effectively with the assisted living staff.
“Family members play a huge role in helping us care for our residents,” says Diane Reier, Lifestyle Specialist at Aspired Living® of Prospect Heights in Prospect Heights, IL. “Whether their loved one has difficulty communicating due to memory loss or is simply uncomfortable expressing their concerns, families often act as the voice for our residents. They let us know what’s working, and what isn’t, in our residents’ care, so we can work together to adjust our support accordingly. It really is a team effort.”
The Importance of Effective Communication
Thorough, respectful communication gets the job done. It’s important to remember that complaints, demands and disrespect are hardly ever effective ways to communicate. Even if your concerns about your loved one’s care are extremely serious, their community is more likely to respond in your favor if you are courteous and respectful in your words.
Keeping that in mind, you may be wondering how your input is going to change the way an assisted living community interacts with your loved one, especially when you aren’t around. When you become an audible, present advocate for your loved one, it helps the staff get to know your loved one better, which makes them less likely to make mistakes in their care.
Here are just a few examples of how you can enhance your loved one’s assisted living experience by communicating their needs and desires:
- Let the staff know about your loved one’s likes and dislikes. Let them know what your loved one prefers to be called or whether they prefer coffee or tea.
- Share your loved one’s special interests or hobbies. Then the staff will be able to suggest activities your loved one is likely to participate in.
- Discuss your loved one’s normal routine. Let the staff know if your loved one is a morning person or a night owl.
- Share your loved one’s personal history with the staff. Help them get on a personal level with your loved one by discussing their past occupation and achievements.
- Let the staff know when you would like to be notified about any changes in your loved one’s behavior or care.
- Ask to set up regular meetings with your loved one’s care staff to discuss the success of their care plan and to brainstorm ideas to enhance their lifestyle.
- Ask the staff how you can help them make their job easier. Be respectful and let them know that you appreciate all they do.
Helpful Techniques for Advocating for Your Loved One
Speaking up for your loved one is important, but how you communicate matters just as much. Consider the following tips on how to address your concerns with the assisted living staff to make sure your voice is heard while developing a working partnership for your loved one’s care:
- Put Your Concerns in Writing – If a serious issue comes up, you should communicate in a serious manner. Writing a professional letter to your loved one’s community sends the message that you mean business. It also ensures that there’s a record of your communications. Sometimes, spoken concerns are easily forgotten, or not taken as seriously as written requests. Write down your concerns in a letter and ask for a response that addresses the concerns and a resolution to the problem, or an offer of a meeting to discuss the issue together.
- Send Email for Urgent Issues – While a letter sends a serious tone, it can often take awhile to get a response. Sending an email to your loved one’s caregiver or administrator can expedite the process. However, remember that the staff will get dozens of emails a day, and yours may get overlooked.
- Follow Up – No matter how you communicate, it’s important to follow up with the staff to make sure they received your message and that actions are being taken to resolve the problem. You can also talk to your loved one to see if they notice any changes in their care.
- Understand the Community’s Policies – Understand that some of your requests might not fall within the scope of the community’s policies and procedures. The staff may not be able to comply how you request based on state regulations or the need to ensure the comfort of all residents. Take the time to get familiar with the community’s policies, state regulations and procedures so you know how the community operates and why.
- Balance Negatives with Positives – Give your loved one’s assisted living staff the benefit of the doubt that they are doing their very best to care for your loved one. When you bring up a concern, try to balance your grievances with recognition of the things you appreciate about the community. Others are more likely to respond well when they don’t see your communication as an attack. Knowing they are appreciated overall will help motivate them to work with your requests.
Ready to Respond
“At Aspired Living® of Prospect Heights, we’re always looking for ways to improve our care and lifestyle offerings for our residents,” says Reier. “Family feedback is one of the top ways we get new ideas for where we can enhance our services.
“I encourage you to keep up with frequent communication with your loved one’s assisted living staff. Although you think you’re asking them to help your loved one, your communication really helps the staff. The best care for seniors comes from a supportive partnership between the community staff, family members and your loved one.”
We Would Love to Hear from You!
If you have comments or questions about our blog, we’d love to hear from you. We also welcome you to share any caregiving insights or experiences in our comments section.
Live Well. Age Well. Be Well.
Offering Independent, Assisted Living and A Knew Day Memory Support, Aspired Living® of Prospect Heights is a distinctive senior living community designed to offer seniors residing in the Chicago Northwest Suburbs area a fresh alternative to “typical” senior living communities.
Aspired Living® of Prospect Heights provides residents with the ideal balance of personalized support, dignified privacy and enhanced independence complemented by luxurious amenities and our life-enriching, award-winning VIVA!SM programming by Pathway to Living®.
Managed by Pathway to Living®, an innovator in senior living, Aspired Living® offers the choice of a private studio or a one- or two-bedroom apartment and the beauty of a brand new community, stunningly appointed and decorated for unsurpassed comfort and style by the award-winning senior living design firm, Thoma-Holec Design, Inc.
For more information, please call Diane at 847-243-6920.
Disclaimer: The articles and tip sheets on this website are offered by Aspired Living® of Prospect Heights for general informational and educational purposes and do not constitute legal or medical advice. For legal or medical advice, please contact your attorney or physician.