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Research has identified a need to promote positive family and staff relationships and collaboration in achieving quality residential aged care services. We piloted an education program for care staff and resident’s families which aimed to achieve this outcome in two Australian aged care homes, using a mixed-methods 14-month pre/post/follow-up design. The 6-module education program was informed by the literature and baseline data (Staff and Family Relationship Audit). Education for direct care staff and residents’ family members was facilitated by 12 staff trainers. Thirty of 49 (61%) care staff and 17 of 38 (45%) family members completed pre- and post-intervention measures (Family and Staff Relationship Implementation Tool [FASRIT] and the Combined Assessment of Residential Environments [CARE]), and they participated in follow-up focus groups and interviews. Pre/post-intervention FASRIT scores increased significantly for family (p=0.001) and staff (p=0.01). No changes occurred in pre/post CARE scores, except for staff CARE ‘safety’ (p=0.014) and family CARE ‘significance’ (p=0.02). Focus group and interview findings identified that transparent communication policies and procedures, clear communication between families and care staff, and shared care goals and decision-making, are needed to improve care service quality. The education program promoted better understanding, relationships and collaboration between family members and direct care staff, resulting in improvements in two domains of care service quality.
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