What do you do to promote communication?
Be approachable. Talk with the residents and their family members. Get to know residents personally. Encourage everyone to listen.
“It’s just what we do. The lines of communication are key to maintaining proper flow of information with both the residents and the families so there’s no surprises. We try to communicate precisely so there’s no surprises with the families. It’s just our normal customer service philosophy and mission and routine ongoing quarterly reminders of our protocols for communicating.”
Kevin Baker, Woodland Manor
“As far as residents’ families, I don’t think we’re doing anything special. The nurses and nurse managers have become so accustomed to keeping families in the loop with things big and small that sometimes they over communicate. I don’t think we’re doing anything that’s really innovative or anything.”
Tim Burchill, Ave Maria Village
Remember that family members expect that everyone is responsible for the patients’ care. Have the policy that the patient doesn’t have to wait for a nurse. Follow up.
Be available for text messages and phone calls. All department heads should spend a decent amount of time on the floor working and walking with residents.
“I think a big part of communication is being out on the floor and all department heads spending a decent amount of time on the floor working and talking with the residents so the residents can communicate with us and we can provide communication with them. Daily room rounds by department heads helps tremendously. We just teach them to love and be kind and listen to the residents.”
Bobby Ginn, Millcreek Health Center
Assign each department head to watch over a certain number of residents each day.
Be proactive. Be transparent. Have an open-door policy.
“I think it’s because the underlying foundation of our care is compassion for our patients, and when you have that as the driving force in the care you provide, you make sure you communicate because you want that patient’s needs to be met. The communication aspect is critical to the quality care we provide.”
Brett Smith, Heritage Place Healthcare Community
What forms of communication do you use?
FOR NEW RESIDENTS
Hold a 72-hour conference for new residents and their families. Assign an ambassador for new residents.
WHEN PROBLEMS OCCUR
Investigate concerns with the family and resident. Ensure the concern is properly addressed. Follow up with resident. Use a grievance log. Make weekly calls to family members who have lots of concerns.
“No. If we have something that hits the grievance log, we follow-up with the resident and investigate any of it and meet with the family or resident again and make sure the concern is addressed completely.”
“We have a Guardian Angel Program for new admissions or people that seem to be having a difficult time adjusting or for an incident that happens. We choose a department head that will follow-up with the family and spend extra time with the resident.”
Amy Maurice, Colonial Nursing & Rehab
TO PRO-ACTIVELY AVOID PROBLEMS
Ensure leadership is easy to access.
Conduct daily room rounds.
Request resident counsel feedback. Provide opportunities for structured suggestions and grievance procedures. Post a suggestion box.
Communicate changes you are making.
Distribute newsletters and fliers. Post items on bulletin boards in visible locations.
Plan family events.
“Other than our talking, we have newsletters. We send out fliers about what’s going on. We have family events that are fun where we try to have potluck suppers or BBQs and talk to our families. It’s setting up a very friendly community-type environment that makes everyone feel comfortable. We just talk together.”
“Any kind of changes that are necessary or problems that are going on, we try to be proactive and not reactive. We try to present things to them before they can present things to us. It’s usually a better outcome. We do customer service training. We train on professionalism and attitude.”
FOR STAFF MEMBERS
Train new hires. Provide training based on need.
Regularly schedule team meetings. Provide ongoing quarterly reminders. Hold annual customer service trainings. Offer CMS training. Discuss skills to train staff how to communicate in difficult situations. Teach them to love, be kind, and listen to residents. Train on professionalism and attitude.
Provide access to department head phone numbers.
Offer educational tools. Encourage and support CPI certification opportunities.