Primary Contact Person
To avoid miscommunications and rumor mills, using one person as the primary contact person can be helpful. All communication should go through this person, and all information should be disseminated by this person. This can be especially important when establishing new situations as well as during a crisis.
As the primary contact person, it is your job to present information to your family members. To avoid issues, you should keep the information honest and brief, and be sure to tell each person the same thing.
Think of the primary contact person in terms of the White House secretary calling a press conference. She calls together all of the important members of the press and disseminates information to them all at one time, sometimes reading from a written document. This way everyone hears the same information at the same time.
In terms of Dad's care, following the recent death of your mother you are now the official caregiver and spokesperson for Dad. He will remain in his own home and have meals, groceries, and medicines delivered. You and your children will take him out at least once a week for dinner or some other outing.
The cleaning lady will now come weekly instead of every two weeks. She'll assist with laundry, changing linens, vacuuming, and other housecleaning chores your mother had been helping with. A gardener will be hired to take care of the lawn and flower gardens.
Dad can take care of himself at this point and does not want to move out of his house. The plan is to help him remain there as long as he can. You cannot provide for all of his needs, especially in terms of your time, but you will organize a plan to involve all family members, and as things come up you will ask for help from the most likely person. For instance, handyman items will be referred to your brother, the carpenter; medical questions will be referred to your sister, the nurse; your niece who loves to sew may be asked to help make some new curtains for the kitchen.
The family should call Dad as often as they can. If he mentions something he needs, ask the family to please let you know so things don't get duplicated. They should also let you know if he has concerns or questions.
What if Mom Gets Sick?
If something changes radically, such as Mom gets sick and has to have care at home or is hospitalized, it's time for another press conference. If need be, delegate this role temporarily to someone else. Alert everyone and let them know that you'll be in touch again as soon as you know more.
You might use a phone-tree system whereby only a few people are called directly by you and then they call their immediate family and so on. But stress the importance of only giving the information as it is given to them, and to direct questions back to you or the temporary spokesperson.
Using notebooks, e-mail bulletins, and family blogs can also help keep the information streamlined and dispel myths, rumors, and other untruths.