The holidays can be a really fun time of the year for seniors who are getting family and friend visits but when someone is living with dementia it may be a challenge for family to know how to interact.
Helping families to have successful visits can make your team stand out and more deeply connect with families. Here are 5 tips to help families to have successful holiday visits:
- Send a note to families, before the holiday rush with suggestions for how to engage with their loved one during the holidays. There is a great list of suggestions available from FIT Kits® HERE that you can use in your letter and refer families to.
- During your care meetings leading up to the holidays, ask caregivers to identify what times for interaction work best for each person. Be sure a caregiver communicates that specifically to family so it helps set the stage for a successful visit.
- Ask caregivers to have in mind a few activities that the person enjoys and be ready to set them up for families when they arrive. This is an opportunity to showcase the expertise of the caregivers and create a specific connection to the family. Ask caregivers to actively help families by asking if they’d like some suggestions for what to do during a visit and setting them up in a quiet area.
- Have caregivers introduce themselves to new family members and answer questions. During the holidays many family members visit from out-of-town and may have anxiety about seeing their loved one with dementia. Ask caregivers to be on the lookout for family members that seem new, awkward or uncertain and have them intervene by introducing themselves and answering questions about the family member.
- Prepare your team. This is really important because it is easy for everyone to get so involved in the day-to-day work that they forget how important a family visit is for the senior and for the family members. For some out-of-town family, it might be their only visit all year. This is an opportunity for the staff to show what they know and how in tune they are with each person living there. Remind your team of how important they are and how to help make each visit special.
“This has been our most delightful visit with (my mother) in years – not because she changed, but because we did.” – Family member working with Steven Sabat, PhD
So many people are coming through your community during the holidays and every one of them will be sharing their experience once they leave. Help them all have a good memory to rave about with others.
By taking the extra time to prep your team and approach every family interaction as an opportunity, you confirm why they chose you to care for their loved one.