Family Councils 101

What is A Family Council?

A Family Council is an organized, self-led, self-determining, democratic group composed of the family members and friends of a long-term care home, who gather together for peer support, education, and to improve the experiences of all people in long-term care. While the goals of each Council may differ, they all seek to create a safe, vibrant, and supportive home for residents, families, and team members.

Role of the Family Council

The role of a Family Council can include, but is not limited to:

  • Provide assistance, information, and advice to residents, family members and friends of residents, including awareness of their rights under provincial regulation
  • Sponsor and plan activities for residents, which can include collaborating with community groups and volunteers
  • Serve as a sounding board and advisory body on new ideas and improvements within the community
  • Support communication between the leadership team and family members
  • Advocate for positive change, and educate and inform families about issues relating to residents, the community, and the long-term care system
  • Family Council is encouraged to review government inspection reports and summaries received, as well as other provincial or funding legislation

While the primary function of Family Council is to provide mutual support and serve as a liaison between families, team members, and leadership of the community; we ask Councils at our communities to support a culture of collaboration and civility through effective communication with active listening, interpersonal awareness, mindful speech, and an anti-oppressive lens.

Our Councils make a difference!

Councils across our communities are extremely motivated to enhance the lives of residents and the teams that support them. Here are a few ways they stay engaged at their loved ones’ community:

  • Community beautification, including gardening, landscaping and creative artwork
  • Get involved in operational  planning and other initiatives to increase resident satisfaction
  • Show appreciation for our team members with various kind gestures like letters of gratitude, providing snacks, hosting BBQs and other events
  • Plan and host community events like ‘Cornfest’, car shows, exotic animal shows, resident and family socials
  • Plan or participate in other fundraising events to support the local community

Fox Ridge Community: Courtyard clean up.

Secord Trails Community: Beautiful hand drawn chalk murals created each month then photographed for a calendar used to raise funds for the community.

St. George Community: Outdoor beautification of garden courtyard – before and after.

I’m interested! Where do I sign up?

Most of our communities have an established Family Council that would eagerly welcome new members. Please reach out to the Resident and Family Experience Coordinator at your loved one’s community to hear how you can get involved.

If a Family Council has yet to be established, there is no better time than now to get started. The Family Councils Ontario has excellent resources available on ‘How to start a Family Council’ that are applicable in both Ontario and British Columbia. Connect with the Resident and Family Experience Coordinator at your community who will also be a valuable resource to you, and may even act a Council Liaison.

Resources to support an effective Family Council

Please note: when we talk about “Family”, we mean any person of importance in the life of someone living in our community, including legal/biological family, chosen or found family, and friends.