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How Actively Involving Your Clients’ or Patients’ Family Members Can Benefit Your Home Care Business

Published on June 23, 2022 by Sharon Morrisette

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Patient- and family-centered care (PFCC) is changing the way many home care providers are choosing to deliver care. Actively involving family members is one critical component in this shift, which has been shown to impact the quality of care and patient outcomes significantly.

In this blog, we offer tips to help home care providers improve engagement with their clients’/patients’ families to get them more involved and list the resulting home care business benefits.

What is patient- and family-centered care (PFCC)?

PFCC is an approach based on building mutually beneficial partnerships between health care providers, patients, and families – covering the planning, delivery, and evaluation of health care. 

Redefining the relationships within health care, PFCC places emphasis on collaborating with people of all ages, at all levels of care, and in all health care settings.

It is built on the understanding that patients and their families are essential allies for quality and safety in direct care interactions, but also in safety initiatives, quality improvement, research, policy development, etc.

In PFCC, patients define their ‘family’ (ideally two or more people related to them biologically, legally, or emotionally) and then decide the level of participation each family member will have in their care and decision-making.

A key goal is promoting the health and wellbeing of individuals and families in addition to maintaining their control, rights, and autonomy.

Tips to engage clients’ or patients’ family members and get them more involved

1. Assess current family engagement efforts

To expand and grow your business in any way – that is smart and strategic – it’s essential to assess your current efforts. In this way, you can identify strengths and weaknesses, look for opportunities, and make sound data-driven decisions.

As well as looking at how you currently engage the family members of your clients/patients, now is also an excellent time to ask for their feedback to gain an understanding of their pain points and preferences.

In asking for feedback and acting on it, you will already start building positive relationships with family members and boosting their confidence in your home care company. 

2. Set up effective communication channels with families

smartcare communication channels with family

To effectively participate in a client’s/patient’s care – and ensure continuity of care – families need to receive clear, timely, complete, and accurate information.

So make sure you involve them, as appropriate, in care discussions, reviewing care plans, progress reports, and so on – always keeping the patient at the center of the communication.

Remember that two-way communication is vital, as family members can often provide your team with missing information from medical records, identify errors in care delivery, detect the need for additional care services over time, etc.

Investing in a family portal is an excellent way to coordinate care services and engage family members. It helps them quickly find details and information about their loved ones’ care, schedules, important updates, and payments. They can also get in touch with the home care provider or care team via secure messaging and add/review care notes to ensure continuity of care. 

3. Promote health literacy

Often, family members can be reluctant to get involved because they feel they lack the knowledge or skills required. Open communication channels can be pivotal in improving families’ home health literacy, where needed.

You can deliver educational materials, training, and other helpful guidance for self-learning through these channels to help boost their confidence. Make sure you provide information in terms that patients and their family members can understand, taking into account the influences of language, social, educational, or cultural differences. 

In addition to providing information via email, text, or social media platforms, your caregiver teams can also share knowledge (medical and non-medical) through in-person, informal training sessions with family members during care visits.

Use ‘show backs’ where family members can repeat the information and display their newly-acquired skills to confirm understanding. This practice also allows your care team to identify and correct any errors or misunderstandings.

4. Listen to and honor family members’ perspectives

Nurse talking with grandmother and her grandson indoors

To successfully engage family members as partners in a patient’s care, you and your team must build mutual trust and respect. This will include being sensitive to the many factors affecting family dynamics, including cultural, religious, educational, and legal.

Effectively involving families requires a collaborative approach, in which your home care team actively listens to and honors their perspectives, concerns, and choices, as appropriate.

Aim to incorporate family members’ knowledge, beliefs, values, cultural backgrounds, and care goals into the planning and delivery of care. 

5. Make PFCC part of your company culture

This is not an overnight task but will require careful planning and follow-through by managers/leaders to get your care teams working together daily in a way that gradually changes your home care company culture, specifically in the pursuit of involving family members in their loved one’s care. 

Hesselbein, a giant in the field of leadership development, says: ‘Culture does not change because we desire to change it. Culture changes when an organization is transformed; the culture reflects the realities of people working together every day.’

This is well worth the effort, as home care providers promoting PFCC as part of their company culture find that patient, family, and staff satisfaction ratings significantly increase along with patients’ health outcomes.

6. Provide training for your office staff and caregivers

Part of effectively involving family members in client/patient home care may require you to support, engage and empower your team in any new initiatives you introduce.  They can be your best tools for success when they understand how to welcome, educate, support, and comfort family members and encourage their active participation in patient care and decision-making.

It’s important to gather feedback from your office staff and caregiver team on what is working well for them, what could be improved, and whether they need additional training or resources to support PFCC initiatives.

7. Measure results for ongoing development and improvement

A recent study of over 1,100 small and medium-sized businesses revealed that measuring progress is a key characteristic of successful companies. Fastest-growing companies were up to 50% more likely to use performance measurement metrics regularly.

It’s crucial to regularly measure results and explore areas for improvement in your family engagement methods and refine your approach continually as your client/patient and family needs evolve.

Top benefits for home care providers that successfully involve their clients’/patients’ families

benefits of including family perspectives

Involving the family in a client’s/patient’s care in the home – with the patients’ permission – is proven to promote winning outcomes for the clients/patients themselves as well as for home care employees and home care businesses overall. 

Benefits include:

  • Improved quality of care 
  • Better health outcomes
  • Enhanced patient safety
  • Reduced number of ER visits/readmissions 
  • Better client/patient experience
  • Increased client/patient and family engagement and satisfaction
  • Increased employee engagement and satisfaction
  • Better financial performance due to wiser allocation of resources, decreased costs, etc.

By actively involving family members, your home care business can enjoy an enhanced business reputation, attract strong referral partnerships, increase client/patient and family referrals, and improve overall client/patient and employee retention

To learn how Smartcare tools can help your home care business to successfully involve clients’/patients’ family members – and directly impact client/patient outcomes – contact us today or request a free demo.