The Nature of Staff - Family Interactions in Nursing Homes: Staff Perceptions

J Aging Stud. 2009 Aug;23(3):168-177. doi: 10.1016/j.jaging.2007.11.003.


Each year thousands of older adults are admitted to nursing homes. Following admission, nursing home staff and family members must interact and communicate with each other. This study examined relationship and communication patterns between nursing home staff members and family members of nursing home residents, as part of a larger multi-method comparative case study. Here, we report on 6- month case studies of two nursing homes where in-depth interviews, shadowing experiences, and direct observations were completed. Staff members from both nursing homes described staff-family interactions as difficult, problematic and time consuming, yet identified strategies that when implemented consistently, influenced the staff-family interaction positively. Findings suggest explanatory processes in staff-family interactions, while pointing toward promising interventions.