EDITOR’S COMMENT: Care providers and families must work in partnership

The issue of how care homes work with relatives and deal professionally with disputes and other challenges is a very topical and highly emotive area.

News media frequently highlight how the relationship between care providers and families can easily turn sour in a highly charged emotional environment where ultimately the well-being of the vulnerable and elderly is at stake.

This was highlighted this year when hundreds of care homes came under fire for banning relatives who complained about the care provided for their loved ones (see Care homes under fire over relative ban).

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Part of Care Home Professional’s role in offering support and information to care home providers involves sharing legal advice, which sometimes can cover contentious areas.

While a strictly legal position may grant few rights to resident relatives, it is clearly in the interest of care home providers to at all times be caring, sensitive and attentive to their concerns. A good care provider will always be sensitive to the fact that relatives are undergoing the highly emotive experience of having placed their loved ones in their care and to always act accordingly.

Care homes CCTV campaigner Jayne Connery told me: “Families have contacted my campaign outraged telling us they have had to fight to stop failures of care being swept under the carpet towards their loved ones.

“If it wasn’t for many families, including myself, having to ‘fight’ to be heard in many cases, justice would have never prevailed.”

This highlights the importance in drawing a line between care home providers staying within the bounds of the law and remaining sensitive to the concerns of relatives.

Developing a positive and inclusive relationship with residents’ families is clearly in the interest of all parties and can only contribute to providing the best possible level of person centred care.

Families are essential in helping care providers learn about the personal interests, histories, likes and dislikes of residents, as well as often taking on the crucial legal role of Power of Attorney for health and welfare, property and finance issues under the Mental Capacity Act.

Technology is increasingly acting as a conduit to help embed links between care providers, residents and families. Examples of this include Resident Gateway platforms, which offer care information to families at a discretionary level determined by care home providers. Digital care planning systems can link directly with families and keep them updated on their well-being, providing details on fluid and nutrition intake and whether they have suffered any falls. Care homes are increasingly linking residents directly with their families through the use of WiFi and social media tools such as Skype.

The best homes are always open and transparent, welcoming complaints and inviting comments and suggestions that contribute towards better care.

Care Home Professional looks forward to providing a platform for a positive dialogue between families and care providers with the common aim of providing the best possible life for residents.

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