Many years ago I was an avid follower of Dr. James Dobson’s radio show titled “Focus on the Family.” I was raising my three daughters and Dr. Dobson’s broadcasts about building self-esteem while teaching responsibility and morality was welcome information.
As happens in life, time changes our perspectives and our priorities. Dr. Dobson’s show became more focused on political issues, and now is run by someone else entirely; my daughters grew up and no longer needed the same kind of mothering.
But today, when I look at what is happening in elder care in our country, I think back to those days and realize that we need a little more “focus on the family” in elder care.
Families are becoming increasingly educated about their options for care. Many of them need your services, but don’t want to be “pushed out” of their role as caregivers in the process. They want – and NEED – to feel like they’re still very much a part of the caregiving team.
At the same time, whether you manage a residential care setting or an in-home care delivery service, your marketing efforts MUST speak to the family. They have to feel confident that you’ll provide the care you say you will, and you’ll do it in a way that respects them. Regardless of what you ultimately deliver to the client, in all likelihood, the FAMILY must be sold on your services before you ever get to the client.
I have the privilege of facilitating an Alzheimer’s family support group for our local community hospital. Frequently, members come to the group to share decisions they’ve made to find facility placement for their loved one, or to find care services to come to the home. As a life-long provider and former facility owner/operator, I listen with great interest as group members try to convince others in the group to seek care, or when someone shares their feelings about the care their family member is receiving.
I hear stories about outstanding care – and an immediate interest in the group of learning where this is happening.
I hear stories about no longer being considered a caregiver, or at least being now “second string” in the caregiving department.
Overall, what I hear is that families are desperately in need of validation. They need to hear the words, “you’re important to this team.” They need to be listened to and valued by the care provider. When this happens, they become strong, vocal and repeat advocates, telling many others about the care they’ve received.
Clearly, what’s needed is a pervasive value that comes through all levels of an organization, and that recognizes the family as a key component to the whole unit of care.
A few good tools don’t hurt, either. We can help with one new tool – take a look at it here: aQuire Family Learning Center (username: demo - password: spring2011). It’s a tool that can help you put action behind your words, by offering families free online training, courtesy of your organization. If you’re a facility care provider, add the “Transitions to Care” course so that families can better understand the transition process, and how to stay an active part of the team of care.
In elder care today, focusing on the family is not just good for risk management and marketing, it’s absolutely essential for long term growth and survival.
It might be time...
3 months ago