March 27, 2014
Residents of long-term care (LTC) facilities in Prairie North Health Region (PNHR), and family members of the residents, are making a difference in improving the quality of life and quality of care for those who live in the homes.
Residents and family members are enthusiastically participating in the new Resident and Family Councils that are functioning in each of PNHR's 13 long-term care/continuing care sites.
The Councils meet regularly to discuss concerns, issues, and areas for improvement in their facilities. Council members share their ideas and input with facility managers and staff as well as with Health Region senior leaders and Board members who attend the meetings. Conversely, facility staff and managers, as well as Health Region leaders and Board members share information directly with LTC residents and their families, answering questions and hearing concerns first-hand.
“It's a good thing,” said Janet McConnell, chairperson of the Resident and Family Council of River Heights Lodge in North Battleford. “The Council lets you get more involved and allows for personal input. It provides understanding and ongoing information about our environment and what we can do as individuals to better our own environment and circumstances,” McConnell stated.
Dennis Fabris, member of the Resident and Family Council at Cut Knife Health Complex in Cut Knife, commented, “The Resident/Family council is a good form of communication between residents and their families, and management and staff. It is important for family members to express their opinions and understand how care is delivered in order to make the residents' stay as happy and comfortable as possible.”
Joan Zimmer, PNHR Director of Continuing Care, explained the Resident/Family Councils vary in size depending on the size of the facility. Some councils meet on a monthly basis, others quarterly. Each Council is guided by common Terms of Reference and a set agenda. Meetings begin with resident and family comments and concerns, and include follow-up on action items stemming from issues raised. Quality improvement and safety matters are discussed, including falls prevention and hand hygiene. Dietary and care matters, building and environmental topics, and activities and recreational items round out the agenda.
“Through the Resident and Family Councils, we are hearing input, ideas and concerns directly from those who receive the care and service,” said Zimmer. “They voice their thoughts and suggestions directly to those who can make decisions and changes for improvement.”
Zimmer and Neal Sylvestre, Director of Rural Health Services, relayed two specific examples of improvements that have come about thanks to the direct input of Resident/Family Councils. The first was last fall's upgrades to the common areas and resident rooms at Jubilee Home in Lloydminster. PNRHA Board and administration implemented the changes as a result of hearing specifically from residents and families. In another facility, changes were made to processes around meals to ensure that hot food isn't put out for residents too soon and that food is hot when residents are ready to eat.
“We are confident that with the collaboration and vision of the Councils and Health Region, more improvements will continue to be made for the benefit of our LTC residents and their families, and for those who visit, volunteer, and work in the facilities,” Zimmer and Sylvestre concurred.
Sylvestre says the LTC Resident/Family Council processes hold staff, managers, directors and leaders more directly accountable to the facility residents and families. “We work together with the Councils to get things done, addressing concerns we may not even have been aware of,” Sylvestre said. “Some things may be simple; others, very complex; but we have to report back and explain what's happening on each item.”
“The input from residents and families is so very valuable. They have a perspective we as caregivers and service providers may not have seen or considered,” Sylvestre stated. He and his colleagues go to the Council meetings and listen for common themes. “If residents and families from one facility have an issue, maybe another facility has experienced something similar and has a solution that can be applied,” Sylvestre added.
“We can see only positive, meaningful improvements ahead,” concludes Zimmer, “all putting the residents and their families first.”
For more information or to arrange interviews, contact:
Linda Lewis, PNHR Communications Officer 306-446-6625
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