In this entry in our Family Council recruitment series, we’re going to focus on building a team that will support your recruitment efforts. Specifically, we’ll explore who outside of your Council can support the recruitment of new members and concrete ways those people can do so.
While recruiting new members is the responsibility of the Council and its current members, don’t underestimate the support and assistance that residents and staff can provide. Residents can encourage their family members to join the Council and home staff can provide information on the Council to new and existing families and encourage them to join. Home staff can often identify when a new family member is struggling or when a family member has an issue that should go to the Council. Enlisting those folks to assist you with your recruitment activities needs a plan with specific ideas that they can carry out. Specially, identify who, what, where, when, how, and why.
Residents can share information on the Council with their family members. Ensure that residents and the Residents’ Council know about your Council and have information they can disseminate e.g. a flyer or postcard-sized handout.
All home staff, from the administrator to PSWs, nurses, environmental services staff and so on can support your Council’s recruitment activities by providing information on the Council, referring families to specific Council members for more information, collecting contact information to give to Council when appropriate (requires explicit consent to do so), providing Council materials to new and established family members, and more. In order to make this work, home staff need to have a clear understanding and positive impression of the Council. All home staff can play a role in recruiting new members, so ensure that you connect with as many departments and staff as possible.
In order for residents and staff to be able to support your recruitment activities, they need to have clear understanding of what they are helping with. So, they need to have a clear understanding of what the Council is and its mission, goals, and activities. Consider drafting a short elevator pitch or developing a brochure or handout that residents and staff can use when talking about the Council. If residents and staff don’t know what the Council is and what it does, they can’t be effective in promoting and recruiting for the Council.
Where is likely the easiest question to answer. When we’re talking about residents and staff helping to promote your Council in order to recruit new members, this is going to take place within your long-term care home. More specifically, it’s likely to happen in the dining room during meals, in the meeting room during Residents’ Council meetings, in residents’ rooms during visits with families etc… What’s important to consider in the ‘where’ aspect is how the promotion may differ depending on setting. This will help inform the materials you develop in the ‘what’ stage. The materials that are most appropriate for distributing at a Residents’ Council meeting may not be the same ones that you can leave for residents to give out when their family visits next. The specifics of ‘where’ are important to consider.
When is most appropriate and effective for residents and staff to talk about the Family Council? Think about the natural points of connection between families, residents, and staff. Think about when families are most receptive to hearing about the Council and taking in the information. Staff can provide information at home tours, upon admission, at the care conferences, and family events. All of these events are natural opportunities to provide information on the Council. Other excellent opportunities are the one-on-one, less formal interactions between families and staff e.g. if a staff member notices that a family member is struggling or if they have a concern, the staff person could direct the family member to the Council. Residents can ask how their family member is doing and direct them to the Council so they can connect with others who share their experience. There are so many natural connections and interactions between families, residents, and staff. Consider all of the possibilities so that you can benefit from as many as possible.
The ‘how’ connects very closely to the ‘what’ but differs slightly. ‘How’ is about the methods you use to reach out to families e.g. written, oral, formal, informal. You could use the same material (e.g. the ‘what’: Family Council brochure) in different ways (‘how’s) e.g. at the admission meeting or handed out to residents to give to their families.
Thoughtfully consider why you’re looking to residents and staff to help promote and recruit for your Council? Why exactly do you think that they would be valuable partners in reaching out to families? Clearly communicating to them why you think they’re a valuable supporter in your activities will help encourage them to join in and support you. Without clearly communicating the ‘why,’ people may be less likely to assist you, even when the who, what, where, when, and how are clearly established.
Stay tunes next week as we wrap up our recruitment series!