Auburn University at Montgomery
Families play a vital role in the healthcare setting when it comes to their loved ones. Nurses often do not take the time needed to educate families on the disease process or how to care for their family member once they return home. Stress can build when nurses do not encourage or teach the family how to be supportive of the patient. Nurses must involve families in patient care to promote understanding of diagnoses, improve post hospital care, and reduce stress.
Nurses frequently speak of family-centered care, but they often forget to implement the concept. Nurses are so concerned with taking care of the patient that they forget the family’s needs as well. Khalaila (2014) found that support, comfort, information, reassurance, and closeness with the latter three being the most important of needs. Information is a leading aspect for understanding a diagnosis and should be conveyed in a comprehensive manner. Delivering information through concise teaching, truthful answers, pamphlets, and case conferences can give the family a better concept of the illness or disease a family member is going through (Khalaila, 2014). Receiving proper information can lead to better reassurance and a closer relationship between the patient, family, and healthcare team.
Family members play a critical role in care once the patient is home. It is important that family members know how to properly care for their loved one. The knowledge about patient care begins with receiving education in the hospital by the nurse who involves the family in procedures and tasks that take place at the bedside. Instead of asking the family to step out of the room for a dressing change invite them to participate. Allow them to ask questions and educate them on what needs to be done. Not only does this participation allow the family to gain more confidence about their loved one’s care, but it also brings a sense of value and usefulness to them as well. It brings feelings of comfort to both the family and the patient (Bhalla, Kaur, & Suri, 2014). Effective communication between the healthcare team and the family is an important role for family members as well (Bhalla et al., 2014). The family can pick up on details about what to do if something should happen at home after discharge and what future processes may need to happen. Clear communication can also help with effective planning upon discharge home.
Hospitalization and illness can be stressful for a family. Nurses need to find ways to reduce that stress. As a nurse, we are constantly assessing. It is important that nurses assess and identify the character of the family and bring to light risks and the interventions needed to address those risks (Milberg, Wåhlberg, and Cravers, 2014). Milberg, Wåhlberg, and Krevers (2014) states that a supportive and conflict resolving family was less distressing than an unsupportive family. Nurses need to find opportunities to facilitate that support such as allowing the family to care for their loved ones, showing support to the family, and arranging for chaplain and counseling services when conflict appears to be present. Milberg et al. (2014) also found that patients with unsupportive and conflicting families often rely more on religious or spiritual support to cope with the issues they are facing. All conflict should be addressed. If allowed to continue the conflict can cause increased stress, anxiety, and decreased health improvement of the patient.
When nurses involve families in patient care, a better understanding of the diagnoses, improving care after discharge, and a reduction of stress occurs. It is imperative that nurses do not forget that the patient’s family has needs as well. Nurses need to use better resources to educate about the diagnosis and to allow families to participate in certain tasks to prepare for home care. In doing this nurses can help the family be supportive and limit the amount of stress placed on them.References
Bhalla, A., Kaur, P., Kaur, S., ; Suri, V. (2014). Involvement of the family members in caring
of patients an acute care setting. Journal of Postgraduate Medicine, 60, 382-385.
Khalaila, R. (2014). Meeting the needs of patients’ families in intensive care units. Nursing Standard, 28(43), 37-44. Retrieved from: https://journals.rcni.com/nursing-standard/meeting-the-needs-of-patients-families-in-intensive-care-units ns.28.43.37. e8333
Milberg, A., Krevers, B., & Wåhlberg, R. (2014). Patients’ sense of support within the family in
palliative care context: What are the influencing factors? Psycho-Oncology, 23, 1340-1349. doi:10.1002/pon.3564.