So much is unknown right now. As the country tries to navigate a global pandemic and seeks to get used to a new normal, many of us will be looking for answers. This is probably most important for those in the healthcare industry – and particularly those within the senior care industry.
Employees will need help in understanding the new procedures that should be followed. Residents will want to know the measures that are being taken to keep them safe. Family members will be reaching out for updates on their loved ones.
Chances are you are being inundated with questions; this is not likely to let up any time soon. By effectively communicating, you can help ensure that you are best allocating your resources, mitigating concerns, and – as much as possible – keeping morale high. Keep the following in mind when it comes to communicating with employees, residents, and family members during times of crisis.
Communicating with Employees
The protocol will be changing, sometimes on a day-to-day basis. It is critical that you stay in accordance with CDC guidelines. One of the very first steps that you should take is to put together an employee manual that is distributed to your team so that they can easily refer to it. You may also want to have an online copy that can easily be updated, as needed. Make it very clear who employees should direct their questions to.
Every area of your facility should have a note clearly posted that includes any requirements regarding personal protective equipment and safety measures. There should be no room for question or misinterpretation when it comes to these matters.
Communicating with Residents
Many of your senior residents will no doubt be facing fears and concerns. It may be especially difficult for those with cognitive impairments. Face-to-face interaction is the most effective when it comes to helping people deal with difficult emotions. Active listening and acknowledging their feelings will go a long way. If they have questions about or issues with any of the new guidelines, be clear about how it helps to keep them safe.
Communicating with Family Members
This will be a particularly difficult time for loved ones of residents, who want to ensure that their family members are being kept safe. You will likely be fielding lots of calls from individuals looking for updates. Of course, you want to alleviate concerns by addressing their questions, but the volume may quickly become overwhelming.
Dedicate space on your website’s homepage for important updates. You should also include a “frequently asked questions” section, that proactively provides the information that many are likely to be looking for. It may also help to be clear about the things that you do not yet know, and when you expect to have answers. Let individuals know where they can direct their questions and when they can expect a hear a reply.
We are all in uncharted territory. Clear, strong, and warm communication is critical to get through times of crisis. By doing so, we can – as much as possible – alleviate concerns and focus our attention on what is most important: keeping people safe and healthy.