Difficult discussions

At times, you must have a difficult conversation with a staff member. It could be because a fellow resident is creating distress for mother or you believe a staff member is failing to respond appropriately to her.

When raising concerns, an established relationship with one or two members of the team caring for wife is essential.  To create one, try to keep in touch with the staff and be ready to discuss issues as they arise.
Communication   and   documentation   are key   components   in   resolving   conflicts   and expressing concerns. The best methods to help meet your needs and your mother’s are to:

1) Wait 24 hours, unless you fear for your family member’s safety, and reflect before further action.  If you feel an event merits discussion, ask yourself the following questions and write your answers, which will help you present your concerns. Remember to be frank but respectful.

  • What troubles me about the care? (e.g.My wife gets upset around the same time each day and the staff just seems to ignore her.)
  • Where does this problem occur? (e.g. in her room, right before dinner.)
  • When did I realize that something wasn’t right? (e.g.I’ve observed this for a few weeks.)
  • Why is this happening? (e.g. She may be sun downing, but I think the lack of attention from staff makes it worse.)
  • How often does this problem occur (e.g. every day)?
  • Clarify what you want. (e.g. I want the staff to take my wife’s behaviour seriously and recognize her distress; I want them to do something specific to help her.)
  • Clarify what you don’t want. (e.g. I don’t want an argument with the PSW that creates a bad relationship.  I worry that they will take it out on my wife.)
  • Think about what you want and don’t want and search for a creative and productive option. (e.g. How can I have a conversation with the staff to ensure they listen and respond to my wife and avoid creating bad feelings?)
2) Present your written concerns to the right person and wait to hear back. Try not to voice them to other staff members.  Keep it between you and your contact.

How do you ensure change from your concerns and a meeting?  The first step is to have clear expectations about how decisions will be made. The second step is to consider the following to turn a decision into action:
  • Who?
  • Does what?
  • By when?
  • How will you follow up?
This allows all parties to leave the meeting with the next steps, who will initiate them and what the follow up will be.  

You can also consult with the Family or Residents' Council located within the long-term care home. They work to improve  quality of care in the long-term care home with management.

Councils provide information and support when dealing with an issue. Connect with your home's Family or Residents' Council for more information on sharing concerns.

Last Updated: 11/08/2017