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Family Councils: Avenues for Change
California’s Family Council bill, Health & Safety Code §1418.4, went into effect on January 1, 1989, and was amended by SB 1551 (Dunn), which was signed by the Governor and became effective January 1, 2000. California’s family council law now provides the following:
Family Council Rights:
Facility Obligations to Family Council:
Penalties for Interference:
What are Family Councils?
Family Councils are not merely "gripe" sessions. While the primary purpose of a family council is for families, as a group, to influence the quality of care for the residents, they also offer a forum to enhance communications with the facility staff and offer peer support for the relatives and friends of residents.
Whatever affects the residents’ lives is a proper concern of the family council, whether it’s the atmosphere of the facility, the role of the medical director, the day–to–day care or the activity program.
An effective family council will provide an opportunity for the members to meet without facility staff (and thus, without fear of retaliation), share concerns, and submit the group’s concerns in writing to the administrator. The council should request that appropriate action be taken and follow up the request to ensure that such action was taken.
Working Together for Prevention of Problems
Too often, nursing home and residents’ representatives attempt to resolve resident problems individually rather than working to prevent the problems in the first place. Too often, this one–to–one approach, because of fear of retaliation, prevents residents and their representatives from lodging legitimate complaints and asserting their rights.