Expecting Family Fireworks this Memorial Day?

Expecting Family Fireworks this Memorial Day?

Tired of arguing about the same old thing at every family gathering?  Where does the argument go in your family – Healthcare? Immigration? Fracking?  Wherever it goes, you’ve heard it all before, and so has everyone else in the family. This Memorial Day, when it begins again, forget the old “let’s agree to disagree”.  After all, if that worked the family wouldn’t be having the same argument for the fifth, or maybe even tenth time.  Instead, how about guiding the family into a new discussion?  No, not tired old sports debates – not who is going to win it all this year, or who was the greatest quarterback of all time.  Leave that to the sports fans in your family. Here are some ideas to shake up discussion patterns at your next family gathering. If your family has not already covered this ground, announce that you have decided the greatest movie of all time is you name it, and start defending your position.  Or perhaps you feel more comfortable saying the greatest comedy, or romantic comedy, or action film, of all time is movie name here. There is also the greatest actor or actress option to pursue. But maybe your family has had this debate before, or you are in unusual agreement about movies.  What else is there?  It depends on your family’s interests, of course, but here are some ideas: What kind of pet would be the absolute worst to have in your home? Which is better – a beach vacation or a mountain vacation? What is the best color for a car in your state? What’s better-...

End of Life Wishes and Estate Disputes

Does any of this sound familiar? Your siblings insist that they don’t want strangers taking care of Mom, yet they aren’t willing to visit, let alone help out.  You can’t help thinking that they don’t want Mom to have outside care, because outside care is expensive, and will quickly eat up their expected inheritance. They don’t offer to take Dad to doctors’ appointments. They don’t believe that you are the target of verbal, or even physical, abuse from your Alzheimer’s afflicted parent. They accuse you of forcing Mom or Dad to sign a “do not resuscitate” order. You and your siblings are arguing about whether to stop treatment and give Mom or Dad pain-relief medication only. The time to gather together with a mediator (a trained, neutral third party) is earlier rather than later.  Giving each family member a chance to state their concerns and perspective can reveal good intentions and good ideas.  This works best when the issues first arise, but even long-term disagreements can often be resolved through mediation.  Mediation can take into account all the issues involved, help create solutions and maintain or repair family relations.  Mediation works powerfully to create solutions while being gentle on the people involved. Common sources of trouble: Disagreement about treatment options Unequal distribution of the burdens of care-giving Disputes over the benefits and costs of outside caregivers Surprise bequests to unexpected recipients Unequal distributions to heirs Pre-death loans or gifts not accounted for in will (so one heir benefits more than the others) Claims of undue influence by a late-in-life caretaker or much-younger second spouse Claims that a disinheritance was...

Conflict Resolution in the Healthcare Workplace

Healthcare organizations have been slow to explore the use of mediation to manage conflict. Yet many areas in the healthcare business would benefit from this approach to conflict resolution.  Workplace disputes can be enormously expensive. Using a neutral facilitator (a mediator) who helps the people involved to discuss the situation and develop thoughtful, self-crafted solutions saves time and money. The goal of healthcare is to help patients leave the treatment facility in better health than when they arrived. However, preventable medical errors cause thousands of deaths annually.  For example, about 18 percent of patients in hospitals are injured during the course of their care and many of those injuries are life-threatening, or even fatal (New England Journal of Medicine, 2010). Further, medication error is one of the top ten causes for death among children (Wrong Diagnosis, 2009).  Infections contracted at  healthcare facilities are another risk that can be prevented or reduced. A key factor in improving the quality of patient care is collaboration or teamwork – professional healthcare staff’s communicating and interacting to guide patient care.  When minutes can matter, it is important to arrive at a good decision quickly.  Workplace conflict can arise out of differences of opinions, educational degrees that separate team members (“nurses” or “doctors”), and professional status or social power. In addition, many healthcare professionals are stressed by the need to treat even the most fragile patients within the insurance companies’ allotted time frames. When team members do not understand and respect each other’s roles and contributions, it can obstruct collaboration.  Mediators can help clashing team members separate facts from assumptions.  They can help the...