They come to you for help.  They are sometimes your harshest critics.  You need them as much as they need you.  Who are they?  They are your patients as well as your patients’ family members and friends.

Criticism Should be Expected

In some ways, it’s natural for them to be critical. After all, their loved one’s comfort, safety and well-being are in your hands. A resident or patient who has a family member to attend to him(her) daily is truly lucky – not every resident is so fortunate.

Yet your resident’s luck often is your annoyance, isn’t it? This loving family member can be quick to complain or voice concerns. After all, we all want the best possible care for a person we love, don’t we?  But it can be draining when there are:

  • Complaints about procedures not being done “just so.”
  • Acts of second guessing patient care strategies.
  • Complaints about you or your staff to the administration or management company.

Turning Your Critics into Allies

Sometimes, all you need to do is start the relationship off on the right foot. When the person moves/checks in, don’t just hand him and his family the usual informational packet.   Introduce everyone to the patient’s primary caregivers. If possible, place a sheet in the packet with a listing of the caregivers, including their photographs.  This makes it easier for family and patients to put names to faces.  Ask – or even require – that your staff members introduce themselves to family members. Remind them they may have to do so several times before the family member knows them on sight.

Moving into an extended care wing or even going through any medical or therapy treatment can be exceedingly trying for family members as well as the patient. If the patient’s memory is deteriorating or is going through a life-threatening disease, many family members may start mourning the “loss” of their loved one as they realize “the end” may be coming sooner rather than later. This can cause them to be stressed, and acutely focused on continuous quality care.

This is where empathy is of paramount importance.  Share our blog post with your staff on providing better care by being empathetic. The central tenet of providing empathetic care is to listen – really listen.  However, truly listening does not come easy to everyone, so it may be necessary to offer additional training. Offer role-playing training for challenging situations, such as when staff members have made mistakes, a resident’s health is starting to decline, etc. Having staff members who understand someone else’s experience can go a long way in keeping strong emotions in check and helping family members through tough times.

Finally, when family members do come to you with their concerns, look on it as an opportunity to review your processes and procedures.  For example, if the patient was complaining of constant pain, you might want to evaluate their meds and treatments.  If a daughter complained that her father has been eating too many sweets, perhaps procedures regarding dietary requests need to be looked at. Embrace every complaint as an opportunity to listen, build trust, and evaluate if/how you can help.

The Snelling Medical Blog is here to help you become a better care provider to your residents. We’re also here to help you deal with the stress that’s inherent in your business.

Please comment below with any questions or topics that you would like to be featured. We love to hear from you!

NOTE:  A full-color, downloadable PDF is available.  

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