We’ve had a resident council for many years with a regular attendance of 5-8 residents. There always are a few suggestions and concerns brought up during those meetings. Since most of the discussions center on food and activities, our dietary manager and activities director are in attendance.
When a concern is brought up, we try to be creative and responsive to what the residents are asking. Often we need to talk with more residents after the meeting to really get a handle on what’s occurring. Then we follow up and share with those attending, and in our meeting notes, what we’ve done in response to the concerns and suggestions.
What I’ve realized is that we don’t have a way to ensure that these changes are being maintained. For example, we’ve made a few changes with our outings and what I’ve found is that the same questions or concerns come up a few months later. I’ve decided to leave any new suggestions/concerns and the responses/solutions on the resident council agenda for 3 months. We’ll review any changes that have been made at each meeting and ask the residents what their perceptions are regarding whether the issue has been solved. I want the residents to feel they are heard and we take their concerns and suggestions seriously. If things haven’t been sustained, we’ll assign staff for follow-up.
The members on the resident council are very open with their opinions. I want to invite them to be part of the solution when they bring up a concern or suggestion, by asking for volunteers to help with problem-solving with staff. This is a big step for our organization. I’ve heard of several nursing homes that have invited family and resident participation on their committees with good results. I’m going to discuss this at our next Leadership team meeting and push to give it a try. I wonder how other nursing homes are engaging residents and families?