Putting Families at Ease: What Family-Facing Reporting Is and Why It Makes a Difference

June 14, 2022

More than 800,000 Americans reside in senior living homes. These communities are an excellent option for aging adults to receive high-quality care in the later stages of life. However, to ensure residents get the best care possible, it’s important to forge a strong relationship between residents’ families and caregivers. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. A study by Cornell University found that family-staff relationships can sometimes turn sour due to communication problems.

Family-facing reporting can improve the relationship between residents’ families and staff by using tools to provide more visibility into the data behind a resident’s care. While our elders are more than just numbers, this visibility into their data can change the traditional reactionary form of eldercare into more proactive care.

What Is Family-Facing Reporting?

Family-facing reporting refers to sharing data and insights about a resident with their families in a presentable format. This can be a printed report detailing what type of care residents are receiving and how their condition is currently.

This form of reporting stands out in the transparency it offers to a resident’s family. Eldercare facilities can use family-facing reporting to provide timely and detailed answers to questions from families. It can also help families learn how your facility improves their relative’s well-being and safety. That includes diets, exercises, and how you’ve tailored a resident’s room to their preference.

For example, if a resident had two accidental falls in a month, families can look into the facility’s steps to address it. This can include enrolling their loved ones in an exercise program to improve their balance and making their room fall-proof by routinely checking for loose rugs and fixing poor lighting.

Data-Driven Reports Foster a Positive Relationship Between Families and Staff

Family-staff relations can be strained at times. When family members feel alienated due to poor communication with staff, they might reduce their involvement. Consequently, caregivers might struggle to deliver the best care without the family’s engagement.

Family members experience a lot of stress when their relatives move to a senior living community. There are negative stereotypes associated with senior living facilities that can make them feel guilty. Perhaps their elderly family member was diagnosed with dementia, which means the family can’t leave their loved one alone. Or their relative might have had an accident that left them with limited motor skills. Regardless, the resident’s family faces a barrage of emotions in the first few months.

On the other hand, the senior living staff has their own dilemmas. Healthcare facilities — including senior living communities — can be understaffed at times, leading employees to work long shifts. In addition, there’s a high employee turnover rate in this industry, causing additional stress among caregivers. According to one study, turnover rates for CNAs and RNs are 45.87% and 40.45%, respectively, in continuing care retirement communities (CCRC). In addition, these professionals often don’t receive training to learn new strategies for taking better care of residents. So, caregivers might see a family behavior as disruptive and demanding.

Effective communication between clients and staff can ensure that families offer detailed information about their relatives. Staff can use this information to apply their expertise in offering quality care. Family-facing reporting empowers a staff member to hand out a data-driven report to family members, improving communication between both parties.

This type of report can contain a complete picture of the resident by answering questions like the following:

  • What help do residents need from caregivers?
  • Are residents getting lost in familiar places or forgetting common words (indicating memory issues)?
  • Are residents having difficulty walking, sitting, maintaining their balance, or any other mobility issue?

Family members can then ask for a detailed explanation of the report. The staff person can look through the residents’ activity history in a mobile app and answer any questions. This availability of data makes the relationship between residents’ families and staff members stronger as everything is documented digitally, limiting conflicts that occur due to unclear or incomplete data.

Data Reporting Helps Fill Missing Gaps in Paper-Based Documentation

Traditionally, senior living facilities don’t share hard data with families. Instead, facilities in the past have documented everything manually through folders, Post-it Notes, and paper reports, which causes room for error.

Nurses in these centers are often overworked while performing various tasks — changing catheters, helping people get dressed, changing beds, and assisting with other activities. Despite their best efforts, it can be hard to track all the details and systematically record them. For example, one nurse might share certain information verbally with the next nurse coming on for their shift, but this information isn’t always recorded in detail.

Sage is a tool that can help to implement family-facing reporting. With Sage, residents can communicate their needs to attendants and staff by using smart devices to notify them. The staff receives these alerts on a mobile app. Sage’s dashboard collects these data points and provides an accurate and complete overview of residents’ care for their families.

Dashboards Break Down Daily Resident Activities to Provide Health-Related Insights

Data from Sage also allows management to alert families about potential health concerns. It can notify whether a specialist needs to see the resident. For instance, a dashboard can indicate that a particular resident notified the attendant to help clean their bed seven times within 12 hours due to incontinence. This isn’t normal behavior, and you can show it to their family members to get a specialist to determine whether the resident is suffering from something like a urinary tract infection.

This type of family-facing reporting also provides regular updates to family members, so they can look into the current status of their relative’s condition and find how it’s getting better.

For example, it’s common to see people lose mobility as they grow older; they can’t keep balance, struggle to maintain their physical strength, and even find it taxing to walk. This limited mobility can significantly hamper their ability to socialize with others and participate in activities. Thanks to Sage’s robust dashboard, facilities can work with family members to review data-driven reports to give families a sense of how their loved one is doing with regard to mobility and what’s working. They might notice in the report that their loved one is experiencing less mobility issues after the facility implemented a regime of low-impact exercises, such as yoga or light hiking.

Get More Resource Visibility to Help Set the Appropriate Level of Care

Traditionally, when management asks for more money for residents with greater needs, it’s hard to convince their families. It’s not that these families are reluctant to spend the money — they just need a greater degree of transparency. This is especially important when these facilities have only anecdotal evidence to substantiate their claims for higher levels of care.

With Sage, you can set a level of care to show what resources are going into the resident’s care and charge accordingly. Consider the following snippet from Sage’s dashboard that shows a per-hour view of care needed by all residents in a senior living facility. It indicates that some residents are getting a higher level of care because their needs are different than others. Suppose one resident needs a caregiver to attend to them 20 times in 12 hours while another resident only needs them four times. In that case, you can easily convince the former’s family about why they need to increase their loved one’s level of care.

Likewise, you can assign higher levels of care to residents who need lots of support from staff during bathing, dressing, and managing incontinence. If these residents show more severe signs, such as exhibiting signs of memory loss, Sage’s detailed reporting insights come in handy. It can reveal these changes in behavior to family members in a transparent manner.

Hence, these reports can be easily used to justify higher levels of care — a stark contrast to traditional senior living facilities, where family members are sometimes hesitant to trust management based on mere anecdotal evidence.

Use Sage to Build Deeper Trust With Families

If you’re supervising a senior living facility, implementing Sage across your facility can help you to provide residents’ families with actionable insights, which can build trust in the long term.

Historically, senior living facilities weren’t always successful in earning the trust of residents’ families due to a lack of proper documentation. Those who still track a resident’s journey via paper-based records in this digital age are likely to struggle when communicating the needs of residents with their families. Sage can usher in a new era of senior living facilities that can use data-driven insights to increase visibility for residents’ families. These facilities can leverage data to improve the quality of life for aging adults and enable better communication with their families.