Who Are My Family
4 November 2020
My definition of family has always been about the people around you, who you can rely on. The ones who are always there, the ones who don’t judge you, and the ones that you will do anything for.
We wanted to extend the concept of family to every one of our teams and care home communities.
We believe that family values should be at the heart of our design for a model of care.
We have found that the language that we use, the words and labels that we attach to both people and interactions are extremely important. The word that is used to describe a person can set the tone for the way in which we approach them.
The label of family immediately gives a different status to the person about whom you are referring to. You give your family member more importance than the unnamed person that you met on the street two days ago. If someone is your family member, there is a social expectation that you will know everything about that person. If I asked you when your Aunt’s birthday is, there would be an expectation that you would know.
These values are values that we want to actively encourage in care communities.
So we dived into the world of sociology and found the generally accepted definition of family member to be
“We’ll define family as a socially recognized group (usually joined by blood, marriage, cohabitation, or adoption) that forms an emotional connection and serves as an economic unit of society. Sociologists identify different types of families based on how one enters into them.”
It makes perfect sense. We want to create families within our communities, where the barriers are broken down, people are important to each other, and love and bonds are created through knowledge of each others life histories. It is our hope that our families will then be able to share their dreams and desires with each other.
So in place of the word service user, resident or client we asked our teams to refer to those people living with us, as their family members. The label demonstrates our values and beliefs about what it means be a part of our community. It also creates the mindset, attitude and behaviours that one would expect in a care setting; trust, happiness, openness and love. To be a family member in an Evolve Community does not mean that we are replacing the original family – we simply become an extension of each other’s families so that we can work together to collectively support the person in care.