Rules and Tools for Family Engagement in Senior Living

Moving into a senior living community not only marks a massive change in a resident’s life, but is a force that shifts their entire family dynamic. It’s not an easy change to make, especially for family who have played an active role in the caretaking up to this point. With this in mind, keeping families closely involved in their loved one’s lives is something every operator strives for. However, due to the real-life pressures of running an assisted living community, this is often the first thing to begin slipping through the cracks.

Seemingly small things can start to add up and cause major friction between families and communities: Difficulty and confusion when arranging extended visits or trips; Lack of sufficient time for meaningful conversations with resident families; Logistical hurdles coupled with the health anxiety of a doctor’s visit. This all places unnecessary strain on an already complicated relationship: your community, the residents, and their families.

As we know, resident health and happiness is closely tied to a strong relationship between their family and their community. Therefore, it’s crucial for assisted living communities to do everything possible to form strong bonds, and leverage advances in technology to enhance the resident and family experience. At this point, it’s not just an added perk — it’s an outright expectation.

Here are some avenues to consider in getting families more closely involved with your community…

Create an online channel for daily updates

With staff and administrators pulled in every direction, the thought of maintaining an additional form of communication can sound unmanageable. However, families appreciate even the smallest update about the day-to-day of their loved one however they can get it.

The more you’re able to showcase your unique activities, outings, cuisine and surroundings, the more tapped into daily life families will feel. This can be done through through a variety of channels — direct emailing, social media, website updates, photo sharing platforms, etc. In senior living today, the culture of your community is as important as ever

Once you’ve created a channel to communicate with family, you absolutely can’t let the content go stale. This is why so many communities look for an Electronic Health Record with a built-in 3rd party portal. This allows them to easily share information they’re already keeping track of for their own records: activity schedules, menu planning, resident notes & observations, med lists, assessment outcomes.

As long as there are good controls in place to ensure only the right information makes it out of the community, 3rd party portals make communication a breeze.

Make it easier for families to access resident medical information

One of the biggest frustrations families and communities face is attempting to stay on the same page with care coordination and medical updates. Families playing an active role in regular caretaking often have difficulty tracking down a current medication list when preparing for a doctor’s visit. When this occurs, family are torn between not wanting to be a bother, and pressure for access to vital information.

Finding a way to share real-time updates to a resident’s med list eliminates time spent on both ends repeatedly communicating this information. If they’re able to access from their mobile device right in the doctor’s office, it not only makes their lives easier, but showcases your community as ahead-of-the-curve.

Find a better way to coordinate monthly billing

Coordinating between financially responsible parties, tracking down payments, printing repeat invoices, settling disputes and entering payments into a GL are all activities that take staff time away from providing quality care to residents.

If you’re able to find a portal tied to your billing system, invoices can often be automatically pushed to the resident’s family, completely cutting out time between generation and sending via paper or email.

Having one central location for responsible parties to log in and view outstanding invoices, recent changes in care and billing levels, in addition to all other community activity, has immeasurable benefits to family, community, and most of all, the resident. When they feel information is being shared with them transparently, people are far less likely to push back against change.

Keeping family members closely involved with your community will save your staff time and energy, helping you to run an efficient and effective community. When you work with a system that integrates family interaction with your staff’s expertise, you’re able to provide truly extraordinary care.

To find out more about ALIS software’s new family portal, ALIS Connect, contact