An education program led by Professor Lynn Chenoweth at the Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA), UNSW Sydney has resulted in significant improvement in care service quality by promoting better understanding, relationships and collaboration between family members and direct care staff.
Findings from the pilot study, published in Medical Research Archives, suggest that relationship difficulties between direct care staff and families can occur when there is a mismatch between organisational structures and family expectations.
The 6-month education program, which was conducted across two leading Australian aged care homes was facilitated by 12 staff trainers across 61% of care staff and 45% of family members.
“Targeted education on family/staff relationships and collaboration can help to raise awareness of its importance in delivering quality, family-friendly aged care services,” said Professor Chenoweth.
“Such education has the potential to promote better care delivery, particularly in improving communication between staff and families in making collaborative care decisions,” she said.
Co-author and Co-Director of CHeBA, Professor Henry Brodaty, explains that moving into residential care is a stressful experience for many older people and their families which often gives rise to tensions between family and staff in relation to care service expectations.
“Residents lives are often complicated by long term chronic health conditions, including dementia,” said Professor Brodaty.
“Our research has identified the need to promote positive family and staff relationships and collaboration in achieving quality residential aged care services. This outcome is an important focus for us at CHeBA,” he said.