What it Takes to Form a Real Partnership

by Family Councils Ontario

The foundation of a strong, effective Family Council is partnership. Without strong connections between members and between the Council and Long-Term Care Home, we find that Councils run into challenges in carrying out their goals and mission. But, what does it take to form a real partnership? The answer: communication, collaboration and commitment.


In order to build a partnership, we need to communicate. We need to understand both what we want to achieve, and what the other Council members and LTC Home staff want to achieve. We need to understand where our members and partners are coming from. What are our motives? What are our values and goals? Are there tensions or conflicts we need to address in order to move forward? Are there differing communication styles that we need to understand and sort out? All of these aspects can affect how well we communicate with one another. When we're trying to address a concern, plan an activity or support each other, clear, honest and respectful communication is essential.


According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, to collaborate is "to work with another person or group in order to achieve or do something." Building on our effective, respectful communication, we build partnerships when we collaborate and achieve our shared vision. By working together not only can we achieve more than by working in isolation, but we also build connections and partnerships with those who are working towards the same ultimate objective. In this case, the ultimate objective is to improve the quality of living of residents living in Long-Term Care. Keeping this goal in mind as we work together will help us build strong partnerships.


If, after we've made sure we communicate well and collaborate, we don't commit to the process we find that we don't achieve our goals or form a lasting partnership. Commitment requires an investment of time and a willingness to continue to communicate and collaborate even when we experience challenges or roadblocks. Showing that you are committed to working through challenges in order to achieve a satisfactory outcome will go a long way towards building strong partnerships, which you can continue to build, nurture and rely on in your work to support the residents, families and staff of your Long-Term Care community.

No one of these aspects is more important than the other and none will support a strong partnership without the others. Concrete ways you can build strong partnerships include getting to know your fellow members and LTC Home staff better (What do they value? What are their goals and interests? What specific skills and knowledge can they contribute?), creating and adhering to a Code of Conduct to support good behaviour, being transparent in your operations and communications (Do you post your meeting minutes in the Home? Do you make sure all LTC Home staff and families know about what your Council is working on? Do you communicate openly with your Home's administrator?), taking time to ensure all opinions are heard and values, and addressing conflict as it occurs.

How does your Council work to build strong partnerships within your Council and with your LTC Home? Join us on Facebook to share your thoughts!

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