Our Family Our Way

Text: Our Family, Our Way Text: Our Family, Our Way

Our Family, Our Way is a communication and care coordination process developed by Miami University’s Scripps Gerontology Center to help caregiving families think and talk about caregiving.

When a person needs care and support, their family is usually first in line to provide it. However, family caregiving can be both rewarding and challenging. Sometimes one person ends up in a primary caregiving role, taking on the majority of care and support responsibilities, without any real discussion about what works best for everyone involved. Some families need help deciding who will do what, where and when it will happen, and how it will be accomplished—Our Family, Our Way is an innovative process designed to provide that help.

We can all benefit from clear and effective communication around family caregiving. Whether a family has just started thinking about care and support or have been caregiving for a while, communication can make a big difference in quality of life for persons with care needs and care partners.

Our Family, Our Way provides carefully designed materials to walk your family through the process of holding a family meeting where you can talk about what kinds of care and support are needed and wanted and how you can work together to make it happen. Other resources like videos and tip sheets are also available to help you along the way. There is no cost to use any of the family meeting materials or resources.

Family Meeting Materials

Our Family, Our Way Family Meeting Materials

Below, you’ll find everything you need to hold your family meeting. To get started, review the “Preparing Your Family Meeting Materials” document which explains the materials and provides written instructions for navigating, downloading, and printing the materials. We've also provided a video that walks you through the process of accessing, downloading, and printing the materials.

This is an optional binder cover that can be used as you assemble your family meeting materials: 

Individual Tools
The Individual Tools help each family member think about how they feel about your family’s current care and support arrangement. There are two versions of the Individual Tools - one for the person with care needs, and one for the other family members (care partners). Both versions contain the same information, but with slightly different wording. Before your family meeting, each family member, including the person with care needs, fills out the version that is appropriate for him or her. Everyone then brings their completed tools to your family meeting.

Family Meeting Guide 
The Family Meeting Guide walks your family step-by-step through the process of holding a family meeting. Each member of your family that will be participating in the family meeting should get a copy of the Family Meeting Guide in advance.

Family Meeting Record
During your family meeting, you will use the Family Meeting Record to write down your agreements and disagreements about the care and support arrangement, create a family care and support plan and a back-up plan, and capture areas that need to be revisited later. Your family only needs one copy of the Family Meeting Record during your meeting.

Videos for Caregiving Families

What can a family meeting do for us? (click the image below to view video)


How do we hold a family meeting?  (click the image below to view video)

Tip Sheets for Caregiving Families

Other Resources for Caregiving Families

Helpful Caregiving Resources Booklet 
This booklet is designed to assist you in locating organizations and professionals that may be helpful as you plan your family’s care and support arrangement.

All About Me
Family members and friends may know each other well, but  there are some questions that we typically don’t ask each other. This resource is designed to help care partners get to know what’s most important to the person with care needs and their preferences for certain aspects of care and support. Not only can this information be helpful in guiding family and friend care partners, but it can also be useful to paid care partners who may be part of your arrangement. 

A key component of the Our Family, Our Way process is making sure that the person with care needs is involved in conversations about their own care and support and included in family meetings. However, some may not be able to complete the full Individual Tools document, or it may not be feasible or appropriate for them to attend a family meeting. (For guidance on determining whether the person with care needs should attend, see our tip sheet Should the person with care needs attend the family meeting?)

It is always important that the voice of the person with care needs be heard. If they are not able to fully participate in the Our Family, Our Way process, consider using this All About Me document to help you understand what matters most to them, so all care partners can use this information to help determine what’s needed, wanted, and possible in your care and support arrangement.

Engagement Calendar
Making sure that a person’s physical and personal care needs are addressed is often the main focus of a family’s care and support arrangement, but it’s just as important to think about how to keep the person with care needs—and the primary care partner(s)—socially and emotionally engaged with others. This resource can help ensure that the person with care needs and/or the primary care partner is staying connected and help find the “gaps” where more engagement might be needed.

Sample Follow-up Meeting Agenda
Your first family meeting is a great start, but it’s not the end. Your care and support arrangement will need adjustments over time as family members’ needs and circumstances change. This sample meeting agenda may be helpful as you meet again.


Materials for Professionals

Guide for Professionals
Our Family, Our Way is designed as a self-guided process that does not require the involvement of a professional, however, a self-guided process is not right for every family and some may benefit more from professional involvement in the process. Any professional is welcome to use the OFOW materials and process in their work with caregiving families. This Guide for Professionals provides information to help professionals decide whether a family should use OFOW independently and tips on how professionals can use OFOW to engage with and support families in discussing and making family decisions about their caregiving arrangement.

Promotional Materials
These resources can be used to share OFOW with caregiving families . They can be downloaded, printed, or shared electronically through newsletters, listservs, and social media.

Give us your feedback about Our Family, Our Way

If you have used the Our Family, Our Way process or materials, let us know what you think about them. The links below will take you to a brief online survey.

Give Feedback as a Person with Care Needs, Family Member, or Friend

Give Feedback as a Professional 

Jennifer Heston-MullinsContact

For more information about the Our Family, Our Way materials or process, please contact Dr. Jennifer Heston-Mullins at (513) 529-1858 or hestonjl@MiamiOH.edu