Frequently Asked Question

Why should we have a Family Council? What are the benefits?

Family Councils:

  • Allows families to give each other ongoing mutual support and encouragement. Sharing thoughts and feelings with others who are in the same situation can help family members – Example: when experiencing difficulties in adjusting to having a loved one in Long-Term Care
  • Provides a forum for learning – Example: regarding residents’ rights, the health issues affecting residents (e.g., Alzheimer’s disease), or other relevant topics
  • Provides an opportunity to become knowledgeable about the Home’s operations, policies and rules. This can be especially helpful for families of new residents
  • Can help families and the Home form a positive partnership aimed at improving resident care
  • Offers family members a chance to express their collective concerns – a “united voice” supporting a “united effort.” In this way, a Family Council can be a catalyst for positive changes in residents’ daily lives, families’ experiences and in the Home in general
  • Can benefit residents who are physically or mentally unable to voice their needs and concerns as well as those without family
  • Can benefit the Long-Term Care Home by providing a means for staff to deal directly with families as a group and establish meaningful ongoing lines of communication. For example, staff may be able to use the Family Council as a sounding board for new ideas
  • Ultimately, improves residents’ quality of life and supports families of residents

Our Home has a Family Advisory Committee (or a Staff Led Family Forum), do we need a Family Council?

  • Some homes may have a Family Advisory Committee that provides advice exclusively to the home.
  • Some homes may have a meeting where the Staff create the agenda, deliver information and ask Families if they have anything they wish to day.
  • This is not the same as a Family Council which are independent and self led. They provide assistance and advice to families of residents in the home and makes recommendations to the home in the interests of residents and their families.

Do residents participate in the Family Council?

Many homes have Residents’ Councils. It may seem that a Family Council and a Residents’ Council have much the same purpose and that they should be combined into one group. However, experience shows that many residents and family members have very different needs, interests, and abilities. Family members, who are often better able to express themselves, soon dominate a combined Council. Residents and families need their own separate Councils geared to their special situations and interests. Ideally, a Family Council and the Home’s Residents’ Council will keep each other informed and sometimes work in partnership.

How much time is involved volunteering to lead a family council?

As much or as little time can be spent as you, the volunteer, have time for. The benefit of have 2 or more Executive Council leaders is that they can share the tasks. Generally, if the Family Council has 1 meeting a month, each volunteer should expect to spend at least 2 hours preparing and following up on meeting conversations (concerns and ideas) and 1 hour in the meeting.

There is nothing more rewarding to the long-term care home community than being a volunteer on Family Council. Your efforts help deepen relationships between families and care home management with the end result improving quality of care and quality of life for residents.

In addition to providing a Staff Person, how will the long-term care home support a Family Council?

Here are some ways that a Long-Term Care Home Staff person can help family members and friends of residents to organize a Family Council:

Provide meeting physical space and/or virtual meeting method.

Educate staff and encourage them to help generate interest in the Family Council.

Send out notices

– in the Home’s own mailings (snail mail and electronic) to family members
– post on bulleting boards
– create a Family Council bulletin board

For specific legislated support required, read About the changes to resident and family councils

If my loved one has passed away, does that mean I can’t continue to be a member of the Family Council?

No. Family Councils are self-led, independent groups who decide on their own membership within the framework provided in the Residential Care Regulations.

As such, the Council can set provisions within its Terms of Reference for continuing membership of a Family Council member who no longer has a family member/friend who is a resident in the Home. It is important for your Council to have a Terms of Reference which defines its structure, operating procedure, and membership. The licensee/administrator does not have the authority to interfere with decisions relating to membership.

The experience and wisdom derived from a Family Council member who has lost their loved one can be invaluable in helping transition new members into leadership roles.

Where can I read the Act and Regulations?

The Ministry of Health under the Community Care and Assisted Living Act lists the Residential Care Regulations. Reference to Family and Resident Council is under Sections 59.-59.2

Their Developing, Supporting and Maintaining Resident Councils and Resident and Family Councils is an excellent reference and will answer many more of your questions.