3 surprising reasons to strengthen your resident council

Here’s my latest article on McKnight’s Long-Term Care News:


3 surprising reasons to strengthen your resident council

When it comes to resident councils, it’s often thought that an active resident council might seem good in theory, but that it’s offset by the amount of staff time required to devote to the process and concern that something written in the meeting notes will trigger an inquiry by state surveyors.

This line of reasoning, while raising legitimate concerns that need to be managed, gives short shrift to the benefits of a strong resident council.

Resident councils can be awesome for your facility and here’s why:

1. Residents tell it like it is: You know those things your staff members see but don’t mention because they don’t want to rock the boat? Residents are far more likely to speak up than the average staff member because they’re not worried about losing their jobs.

Some of them are like my Aunt Bevy, who used to tell me, “Eleanor, I can say what I want. I’m an old lady.” Tap into this important source of info and find out what’s really working, and not, in your facility.

Residents will tell you what you need to know to make your facility shine enough to attract more residents.

2. Free labor: I hate to be so crass about it but let’s face it: While everyone else is running around your organization like lunatics because they’re short-staffed, your residents are sitting around hoping for something interesting to do. We have a pool of diverse, experienced, motivated and often bored individuals yearning to be put to good use.

Sure, they’ll need some help to overcome their physical limitations, but working together they can effectively address many seemingly intractable problems. Maybe they could raise money to contribute toward an herb garden for the patio or start a welcoming committee to reduce the isolation of new residents. Ask them what they want to do – it might be exactly what’s needed to revitalize demoralized staff members and energize your institution.

For the entire article, visit:

3 surprising reasons to strengthen your resident council


2 thoughts on “3 surprising reasons to strengthen your resident council”

  1. utilizing available, willing and able residents whenever possible toward productive use is a great idea. Facilities may find they have more resistance from families toward this purpose than from residents themselves.

    • Thanks for your comment, Imogene. I hope staff members are talking with resistant families about the benefits for their elders of getting involved in the life of the community. If that’s an issue, perhaps the resident council can help to organize an event that includes families so that they can see what a wonderful opportunity it is.


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