Here’s my latest article on Long-Term Living magazine online:
The holiday season is a time when family members are more likely than usual to visit their loved ones in long-term care facilities. Out-of-town relatives may be making their annual visit, or grandchildren off from school might be stopping by to see Grandma or Grandpa. Now’s your chance to roll out the red carpet and show families what nursing homes are really about—caring treatment of their loved ones, an engaged staff that considers family members part of the team and good customer service. Where to start taking advantage of this opportunity to shine? At the front desk…
1. Encourage staff to provide an extra-warm holiday welcome.
LTC staff members are used to the hustle, buzzers, equipment and jargon of facility life, but the environment can be jarring to occasional visitors. Counteract their expectations of a sterile setting by offering a cheerful hello from a holiday-themed lobby, providing directions to their loved ones that show personal knowledge of the resident (“Your aunt is probably at lunch on the first floor right now so you might want to check there before you go to her room.”) and suggesting guests have a look at the visitor’s information provided by the facility. This material can be displayed as informally as a stack of newsletters on the counter, or with the fanfare of a labeled magazine rack filled with the elements outlined below and complete with resident greeter.
2. Reach out to family members through the facility newsletter.
Have relatives sign up to receive the missive so they can be informed of events and happenings all year round—and create a facility newsletter if you haven’t already done so. It’s easy and inexpensive to offer an electronic version, so now is the time to capture those email addresses and save on printing and mailing costs. Deliver helpful information and news consistent with the mission of your facility at a realistic frequency that can be maintained by your staff. It’s much better to offer a quarterly or semi-annual publication that can be delivered regularly than to commit to a monthly contact and not be able to follow through.
3. Offer tips for families to make the most of their visits.
For more, visit LTL magazine online: