Resident And Family Engagement: What is my role as a leader?

AHRQ Safety Program for Long-Term Care: HAIs/CAUTI

What is resident and family engagement?

  • Resident and family engagement is one component of person-centered care, a philosophy that recognizes residents as individuals and as partners.
  • Effective resident and family partnerships are demonstrated by including the residents and family as active members of the health care team.
  • Accommodating residents' choices and preferences in their plan of care is one way facilities can reflect a commitment to resident and family centered care.
  • Resident advisers, advocates, and long-term care ombudsmen are examples of formal roles in long-term care facilities that promote shared decision making and active partnerships.

How can resident and family engagement improve the culture of safety and prevent healthcare-associated infections?

Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) occur far too often in nursing homes. There are many contributing factors to the high incidence of HAIs in nursing homes, and most HAIs are preventable. HAIs can have numerous negative effects on the resident's quality of life and outcomes. HAIs have also been linked to increased risks for acute hospitalizations, with associated morbidities and mortality.

Reducing HAIs requires a team effort and should include the resident and family as part of the safety improvement team. Involving residents and family members in harm prevention efforts—

  • Promotes a comprehensive approach to reducing all infections in nursing homes.
  • Improves resident engagement.
  • Improves staff experience.

What is my role as a leader?

Encourage resident and family input in day-to-day care.

  • Establish a relationship with residents and their family members so you can understand their needs and preferences.
  • Encourage residents and families to participate actively in care plans.
  • Share concerns and needs of residents and families with the care team.
  • Ask residents and family members to provide feedback on their experiences.

Formally engage residents and families.

  • Invite residents to participate in decisions involving new programs and services, staff and resident education and orientation, and policy development.
  • Provide opportunities for resident advisers or advocates to serve on quality and patient safety teams.

Ask leaders, staff, and clinicians to support resident and family engagement.

  • Conduct leader, staff, and physician education programs on resident and family engagement.
  • Coach leaders, staff, and physicians to develop effective communications and partnerships with residents and families.
  • Include goals related to resident and family engagement in short-and long-term plans for the facility.
  • Establish policies that promote active resident and family engagement in all aspects of the long-term care facility operations.

Develop resident councils.

  • Recruit, orient, and support residents and family members to serve on councils.
  • Ask resident councils for input on all aspects ofthe facility's operations.
  • Provide education to help residents and family members build skills, knowledge, and confidence to be effective team members.

Where can I find more information?

  1. Advancing Excellence in America's Nursing Homes
  2. National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center
  3. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. "Strategy 1: Working With Patients and Families as Advisors." 2013.
  4. Carman KL, Dardess P, Maurer ME, et al. A Roadmap for Patient and Family Engagement in Healthcare Practice and Research, September 2014.
  5. Johnson, BH, and Abraham, MR. Partnering with patients, residents, and families: A resource for leaders of hospitals, ambulatory care settings, and long-term care communities. Bethesda, MD: Institute for Patient-and Family-Centered Care; 2012.
  6. TeamSTEPPS Long-Term Care Version
Page last reviewed March 2017
Page originally created March 2017
Internet Citation: Resident And Family Engagement: What is my role as a leader?. Content last reviewed March 2017. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.