How many times have you heard this conversation or something like it?
"Mrs. A's family says blah, blah, blah."
"Pfft. What do they know? They never come to see her anyway."
I think sometimes we get possessive of our residents. We spend forty or more hours a week with them, so we think that we are closer to them than their families are. In some cases, this might be true, but I think that for the most part, the resident's families really care about them and do know more about them than we do. Whether they have time to come and see their mom or dad in the nursing home is another story.
On the other side of the coin, I think the families sometimes are in denial about the person their loved one has become. Living in a nursing home requires a whole new set of coping mechanisms and developing them tends to change people. The changes are not necessarily for the better. Folks don't want to think of their mom or dad becoming cantankerous when they used to be kind or reclusive when they used to be outgoing, but it happens. Sometimes they are very shocked and upset with us when they do see the changes. And then we get bent out of shape when they comment on what they see.
Communication is key. If the family cannot come to see the resident, keeping them apprised of the resident's condition is more important than ever. I'm not sure that my facility does a very good job of this. I wonder if there are any out there that do.