Stronger Together: Deepening Employee and Family Member Relationships
A recent post in McKnight’s suggests that better employee/family member relationships might improve employee retention. This caught my eye, as I came to this work as a highly engaged family member. I can affirm that making every effort to deepen my connections with those who cared for my father certainly made a difference for me. And, without question, building trust and collaboration between us made a significant difference for my father.
This awareness has influenced my work with The Eden Alternative from the very beginning. Way back in 2004, The Eden Alternative introduced the concept of care partnership through Eden at Home, an initiative designed to bring family members, care professionals, and the Elders themselves together in a single learning environment. Through Eden at Home, these different stakeholders learn about the power of person-directed care and how, together, they can leverage these new care practices as a care partner team. Everyone wins when different members of the care partner team develop a shared language by learning together.
Initially, Eden at Home was created to meet the needs of those benefiting from home and community-based services. But it became clear that its flexible focus could address a variety of needs. Over the last 5 years, we have participated in two grant projects where the Eden at Home Care Partner Workshop was part of a funded educational plan to improve care in nursing homes. In both cases, nursing home employees and family members teamed up to experience an online version of the workshop over 8 weeks. The goal was to deepen employee and family member relationships and empower all of them as change agents. Family members shared that the workshop process really opened their eyes to what is involved in long-term care and how they can help make a difference. Participating employees shared that they felt more supported after working so closely with family members in the class. Just further evidence that education is the antidote to fear… and that the relationships resulting from it can be game-changers, whether care is offered in a nursing home or someone’s own home.
In her McKnight’s article, author Eleanor Feldman Barbera describes research that claims “the two biggest contributors to staff anxiety were ‘guilt about the care offered’ because it wasn’t up to the standards of the individual workers and the ‘poor quality of the relationship with the residents’ family.’” Person-directed approaches to care, when consistently applied, address both of these concerns head on. Check out the article and share with us below what steps you’ve taken to deepen employee/family member relationships and the impact you’ve seen on employee satisfaction, performance, and empowerment.