6 Easy Steps to Communicate with the Family

Blog provided by Senior Living SMART Partner: Sensight Surveys

One of the most common recommended improvements we hear from family members on our customer experience surveys is more frequent updates from community management about their loved one’s status.

Managing a senior living community is a busy, demanding job.  Sometimes finding time to update responsible parties (RPs) can be difficult, but doing so goes a long way in building a sense of caring.  Our research shows that something as simple as a personalized note from the Executive Director can make the difference between a disgruntled family member and one who is happy with their senior assisted living community.

To help Executive Directors and other community management meet their family communication goals, we have created a simple list of action steps for providing personalized updates to family members and friends designated as RPs in your communities.

We suggest you set up a schedule to deliver one update on each resident per quarter.  Break it down into weekly goals.  If you have 60 residents in your community, that translates into about 5 updates per week or 1 per day.  Doable, right?  When you can, deliver updates verbally to RPs who visit the community.  Otherwise, an email or good old-fashioned snail mail will do just fine.

 

6 Easy Steps to Communicate with the Family:

1. In the case of RPs who visit regularly, provide a verbal update in-person whenever possible.  Folks will be thrilled that you took the time to spend a few minutes to update them on how their loved one is doing.

2. For RPs who visit less often, update your contact list to include valid email addresses and/or mailing addresses.

3. Create an email/letter template that can be easily personalized to each resident.  We suggest a template that is less than one page and includes personable language.  See sample letter below.

4. Set up a schedule to create and deliver a specific number of updates per week, including the names of residents who will be subject of your updates.  Add the schedule to your Outlook calendar or task organizer.

5. Meet with your leadership team once a week to gather a few notes to include in your updates.  For example, the nurse, assisted living manager, activities director, and dining manager may have a comment or two they would like to share with responsible parties.

6. Implement!

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Sample RP Update Letter:

Here is a sample letter that can be quickly personalized to each responsible party.  Feel free to use it as a template or create your own.

Date

Dear [Family Member’s Name],

I am pleased to share this personal update with you about how [Mary] is doing.  [Mary] has become more active in our Life Enrichment Program lately.  She seems to really look forward to our themed dinner events and has become quite involved in our music therapy program.  Our nurse reports that she has gained 4 pounds in the past month and is doing much better since her medications were adjusted last month.  She continues to receive help with her Activities of Daily Living but works to remain as independent as possible by performing some basic tasks herself.  Overall, she is doing quite well.

We strive to keep family members and other responsible parties updated on how their loved one is doing.  We value your comments and consider it an opportunity to work together to continue to meet [Mary’s] needs.  To that end, if you have any questions or concerns, please contact me at [phone number].  You can generally reach me from [hours of availability].

Sincerely,

[Your Name], Executive Director

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