​A 2003 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association suggests that training family members leads to better quality of care for residents and diminished potential for conflict between staff and family.

For the study, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh developed a Web-based educational and communication program designed specifically for family members of nursing facility residents. The program included interactive videos that interfaced with the viewer through exercises and questions and an interactive bulletin board that enabled private communication between families and caregivers.

The system also contained modules and instructional pages to teach novice users how to use a mouse or touch-screen monitor.

A pilot test of the program with actual family members showed that knowledge of dementia care significantly improved following the computer-based training.

According to the authors, family members, including many elderly with diverse ethnic backgrounds, enjoyed using the computer-based system to gain knowledge about loved ones in facilities.

A proposed second phase of the study was slated to include a curriculum of clinical, administrative, and legal education for family members, to include sections on “Family Orientation” for newly admitted residents, and a facility-specific “Family Communication Room” that enables families and staff to communicate directly on an ongoing basis.