Whether you care for children or adults, building and maintaining strong relationships with the family members of those in your care can be challenging. When you get only a few minutes (if that) each day to talk with someone, how do you connect with them?

It’s easy for everyone to get swept up in their day. But making the effort to communicate openly with family members can lead to more trust, stronger connections, and, ultimately, better care for the people at your center.

Here are a few ideas to help you strengthen your relationships with family members:

  • Be proactive. Good news is always easier and more fun to give and receive. But when a problem arises, it helps to share the news with parents or guardians before they pick up or check in on their loved one. This way, no one is surprised at pick up. Also, by talking about an issue as it happens, you may be able to address a problem while it’s still small.
  • Ask them to volunteer. Think baby steps here. Something as simple as asking a parent or guardian to come in for 15 minutes to read a book or play a game can help that grownup see the amazing care you’re providing and become more comfortable talking with you.
  • Communicate how they want to communicate. One person may hate phone calls, but loves email. Another may prefer the opposite. When you ask family members how they like to communicate (and then contact them that way), you increase the likelihood they’ll respond, and you show them you care about communicating with them effectively.
  • Share expectations. If you teach young children, share information on child development and what milestones parents might expect to see throughout the year. At an adult care center, share the care plan with family members (if they haven’t seen it). Let them know how their loved one might progress while they’re at your center.
  • These are just four ways to build stronger relationships with the families of those in your care. If you’d like more ideas, check out Child Care Aware’s resources (for early childhood) or this article from Home Care Pulse.

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