How To Start A Family Council
As every Family Council is unique, there isn’t just one approach to starting a Council. To help you get started, this page provides an overview of the most common approach for starting a Council.
If you and others are interested in starting a Family Council, reflect on the information in this page, identify the steps to take, and review the resources listed below.
If you are a home staff person who wants to help families start a Council, share this information with them and download our resource Helping your families start a Family Council: a guide for LTC home staff.
Steps to start a Family Council
Step 1: Congrats!
First, congratulate yourself and your peers for taking the first step: you have decided to start a Family Council!
Step 3: Reflect on what you want to accomplish
- Why do you want to start a Family Council?
- What are some benefits that you see for families and residents?
- When you launch your Council, what do you want to emphasize in the short-term? What are your long-term goals?
Step 4: Talk with other families & friends of residents
- Talk to the families you know to see if they share your interest and if they have heard about Family Councils
- Ask if they would be interested in helping you start a Council
- Share with them what you have learned
- It is important to have at least a few people interested in working with you to launch the Council
Step 5: Talk with home staff (administrator, potential staff assistant)
- Talk to the home administrator about assigning you a staff person to help you get started
- Help educate families about the positive role a Family Council can play in the home
- Think about how the staff can help you develop the Family Council and spread the word by telling families about the role and goals of the Council
- Determine who to keep informed about next steps and what support you will need
Step 6: Get people together: Form a planning team
- Form a planning team: a group of 2-3 people who are interested in working with you to develop the Council
- Share with the team members what you have learned about Family Councils
- Review and discuss the first three chapters of our handbook, Your Guide to Starting and Maintaining a Family Council
- Together, watch and discuss the archived webinars Family Council 101 and Working Better Together
- Meet with the planning team to identify the work you need to do to hold an introductory meeting and plan for the first few Council meetings (see more below)
- Divide the tasks among planning team members so no one person is doing all or work of the work
Step 7: Plan and hold an introductory meeting
- It is important to hold an open introductory meeting to which all friends and family members of residents are invited. This open session allows you to share general information with families and generate interest in the Council.
- Consider when and where to hold the introductory meeting and what the content of the meeting should include
- We suggest having a guest speaker from within the home (Administrator or other management team member) speak about how the home operates or an external guest speaker on a topic that is important to families (Alzheimer’s Disease, self-care etc…)
- At the meeting, share the role and purpose of a Family Council and how it can benefit residents and families
- You can share our Family Council Introductory Video, Together We Can Do Great Things!
- Have attendees complete a Family Interest Survey to gather information on the best times to hold Council meetings, issues families are interested in learning more about, and contact information you can use to invite people to Council meetings
Step 8: Hold your first meeting Council meeting!
- Thank people for their interest in the Family Council!
- Share with attendees what you know about the role, purpose, powers, and structure of the Family Council
- Hand out materials to attendees to help them learn about Family Councils:
- Consider watching Family Councils 101 together
- Select temporary leaders (chair/president (or co-chairs), vice-chair, secretary)
- Identify the to-do items you need to do to set your group up for success:
- Start with a Mission Statement and Goals, leadership model, Terms of Reference & code of conduct
- Brainstorm education and guest speaker ideas: guest speakers are a great way to inspire participation in the Council!
- Plan the first few meetings: what do you want to talk about? To learn?
- Discuss the role of home staff in supporting your Council
Step 9: Maintain your Council!
- Hold regular meetings to maintain interest in and momentum of the group
- Develop your Mission Statement and Goals, leadership model, Terms of Reference, and Code of Conduct
- Do a group self-evaluation after 6-9 months