Family Council

A “Family Council” is an organized meeting of family members, friends, or representatives of nursing home residents. This forum fosters effective communication and works to advance the quality of care for loved ones within a nursing home facility.

By forming a council, loved ones can ensure their relatives receive the care they deserve and influence overall facility operations. Relatives, friends, and representatives of residents can meet routinely to discuss concerns without the presence of facility staff and unite in advocacy on behalf of their loved ones.

Key Components of Family Councils

  • Recruitment.
  • Leadership.
  • Relationship.
  • Improvement.
  • Thoughtfulness.

Key Component Details


A “Family Council” is an organized group of relatives and friends of residents who meet regularly to discuss and address concerns about residents’ quality of care and quality of life within a nursing home or assisted living. California has the strongest protections and laws for family councils in the nation! In January 2001, SB 1551 (Dunn) became law.


The primary purpose of a family council is for families and friends to influence residents’ quality of care and quality of life. 

Whatever affects the residents’ lives is a valid concern of the family council, whether it is the role of the administrator, the day-to-day care, adequate staffing, meals and snacks, respect for resident rights, or the activity program.

Family councils help prevent problems and guide members on how to assert their rights and seek action on shared concerns.


Family councils offer a forum to communicate with the facility staff. 

For example, if one concern involves dietary issues, the facility dietician is invited to talk to the Family council to answer questions and address these concerns. Family council members benefit directly from sharing information, support and encouragement.


In January 2001, SB 1551, the (Dunn) law, was enacted in California. This law significantly advanced family council rights in nursing homes and established new requirements for facilities.

What are Family Member’s Rights for a Family Council

How to Participate or Begin a Family Council

Family Council Successes

  • The facility agreed to provide towelettes and direct staff to wipe residents’ hands at meals.
  • One family council kept a notebook list of concerns,date addressed,plans by the facility to rectify/resolve the issue,and date of completion-the council reviews the list monthly for continuation.
  • A family council developed a program to provide support to families during a resident’s dying process.
  • A meeting with facility management improved staffing assignments and stopped staff rotation.
  • A family council initiated an Employee of the Month recognition project.