Susan Rogers, MSG, Prestonwood Rehabilitation & Nursing Center, on Improving Communication with Care Providers

By: Susan Rogers, MSG, Prestonwood Rehabilitation & Nursing Center, for Collin County Senior Magazine.

At least once a week someone will come to my office anxious to move their loved one to our community because they are dissatisfied with the care provided at another facility. I listen to their list of complaints and then ask them how the other facility responded when they shared their concerns with them. Most people quickly respond that they didn’t feel comfortable expressing their concerns to the staff, so they decided to move their parent to another facility instead.Whether your loved one is receiving home health services, visiting a doctor, confined to a hospital or recovering in a skilled nursing facility, you can improve communication with the care providers to ensure that your family member gets the best care.


Whether moving your mother to an assisted living community, setting up home health care or admitting her into a skilled nursing facility for rehabilitation, the process can feel overwhelming. It’s a good idea to have someone else with you when you meet with the staff, especially during your initial visit. Feel free to take notes and to ask for clarification if you don’t understand something. Be upfront about your expectations, hopes and fears, and you may be surprised about what you learn. Lastly, you will want to verify that the care provider knows the best way to reach you.


Most care providers have chosen their profession because they care about the people they serve. Most have the best intentions in mind as they provide care and services. Most are committed to providing your loved one the best care, however, mistakes do happen. It is important for you to be observant and attentive. If something doesn’t make sense or doesn’t “feel right,” ask for clarification. You may also need to verify that everything your loved one tells you is accurate, too. Sometimes medications, poor hearing, fatigue or other factors can cause someone to misunderstand or misremember.


The care provider will be best able to resolve any questions or concerns if you express them in a timely and factual manner. Make note of the date, time and persons involved.


When voicing a complaint it is always wise to use what my son calls a “compliment sandwich.” Start and end with a compliment and your complaint will be better received. You may say something like, “How can we work together to find a solution?” or “Help me to understand…” There will be an adjustment period as your loved one and the care providers get to know each other, and open communication makes this transition go more smoothly.


Most communication with care providers is done face to face or over the phone, but e-mail can be a valuable tool as well. With e-mail, you can ask a question or share a concern 24 hours a day. You also have a record of your correspondence for future reference.

No care provider is perfect, and people make mistakes. By using these tips, you should find that your communication with care providers has improved and you are able to resolve question and concerns more quickly.

Author Susan Rogers is the Community Liaison for Prestonwood Rehabilitation & Nursing Center in Plano, Texas. Visit for more info.