Facilitating resident and family engagement in long-term care settings


The following key points are discussed regarding challenges and strategies in facilitating resident and family engagement in long-term care facilities:

  • Phasing in new relationships to minimize the overwhelming feeling for new residents
  • Providing modern communications systems to support effective family visits when in-person visits are not possible
  • Customizing care, when possible, to meet individual preferences and to make residents more comfortable 
  • Empowering frontline staff so they can more conveniently and efficiently address resident needs

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Long-term resident care facilities sometimes struggle with negative perceptions about care and engagement with residents and families. Overcoming this perception is critical to your ability to attract and retain residents and earn the trust of residents and families.

Key challenges of engagement in long-term care facilities

The following are key challenges of resident and family engagement in long-term care facilities, along with strategies your facility can use to build trust with residents and families through optimized communication and engagement.

1. Overwhelming facility relationships

Moving between healthcare facilities and long-term care, residents meet many people. They interact with medical practitioners as well as various staff members in the residential center.

The number of new people can overwhelm residents going through a significant change in their lives. Do everything you can to make this transition as easy as possible. Phasing in these new relationships may help alleviate some of the stress and pressure.

2. Obstacles to in-person visits

The pandemic brought to light a critical challenge for care facilities in managing visits between residents and family members. Like other health environments, long-term care facilities implemented visitor restrictions to protect the health and safety of residents and staff.

Naturally, it is inconvenient for all involved when family members cannot see their loved ones. In some cases, they may feel negative sentiments toward the care facility.

Alleviate some of the problems caused by long-term care restrictions by enabling alternative methods for visits. For instance, providing reliable communications technology that gives residents the ability to communicate visually and verbally can help. Even though it is not the same as an in-person visit, this alternative approach gives families time together. This technology is especially beneficial when family members do not live close to the facility, as it creates more opportunities for interaction.

3. Resident and family expectations for more customized care

Some care facilities use standardized processes when coordinating relationships with residents. This approach is viewed as more cost-efficient and convenient, as it limits the amount of time and resources you have to put toward meeting individual needs.

However, standardized approaches may also seem cold and impersonal at times, which is not good for attracting and retaining residents. Customizing care is typically better for long-term engagement. This process begins when a new resident comes on board, and you meet with the resident to learn about their needs, interests, and preferences.

For example, food is one of the aspects of residential life about which people often complain. Personalizing meals or at least offering choices that meet the needs and interests of all residents is helpful.

There are certain aspects of residential life that are consistent for each resident. However, doing things to personalize life experiences for residents demonstrates genuine interest in their welfare. It also contributes to your ability to build rapport and trust with residents and their families.

A long-term care resident engages with people via a mobile phone

4. Empowerment of frontline staff

In a traditional model of residential care, most key decisions are made by administrators and office staff. However, these employees are not the ones who spend the most time with residents. Instead, it is nurses, recreational coordinators, rehab providers, aides, and other frontline workers that interact regularly with residents.

Empowering these frontline workers to make certain decisions, or to advocate on behalf of residents, can have a significant impact on engagement. It makes residents feel they have a voice and that the people they get to know and trust have some ability to help them with needs that arise. Family members are also more likely to interact with frontline staff, so they will appreciate the ability of those employees to improve the experience for their loved ones.

5. Embracing the role of families

In some cases, long-term care facilities give minimal consideration to the involvement of a resident’s family in their care process. Keeping family at a distance can cause distrust on the part of family members and growing resentment over limited awareness of the well-being of the loved one.

It is more effective for facilities to embrace the role and involvement of family, to the extent that it is beneficial and desirable to the resident. In addition to regular visits, you can keep families engaged with special days and activities.

Another way you can keep families engaged is through some form of ongoing communication. This communication might take the form of a periodic mail or email newsletter. In it, you can offer updates and information about any events going on at the facility, upcoming schedules, and any other pertinent items related to the facility and its residents.

Strengthen resident and family engagement with RingCentral

Engagement with residents and families is critical to the viability and success of long-term care facilities. It helps you build a happy community attractive to prospective residents. It also helps you earn trust, which boosts your reputation within the community.

RingCentral is a leading provider of cloud-based communications systems, which makes it a perfect fit to manage your communications and engagement strategies. It equips your staff with cross-channel tools, connection reliability, and best-in-class security features.

Deliver the ideal resident experience. See how cloud communications are transforming healthcare. Get the demo.

Originally published Jun 03, 2022

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