As a patient, having the physical and emotional support of family members is critical. They are our advocates, our translators, our errand-runners, our shoulders-to-cry-on, and our connection to the outside world. This article from eHow: “The Role of the Family in Health Care” says it succinctly:
The family plays an important role in a patient’s recovery after surgery or an accident, during an ongoing chronic illness, during and following childbirth and during hospitalization and terminal illness.
- Family members provide the daily setting for patient self-management
- Family members already take active roles in self-management and medical care
- Family support is linked to better patient self-management and outcomes
- Family members are uniquely qualified to be effective supporters because of their frequent & ongoing contact, shared cultural backgrounds and intimate knowledge of how the patient is managing (or not managing)
Patients and their families are a powerful, yet relatively untapped resource when it comes to patient care.
Thankfully, several forward-thinking organizations have started to implement care programs designed to be inclusive of families. One such organization is the Partners Healthcare in Boston MA and Dana Farber Cancer Institute also in Boston. A few years ago I had the privilege of visiting these organizations and witnessing first-hand the degree to which these institutions have gone to include families in patient care. Based on pioneering work done by Dr. Alan Frankel and his team, Partners has some simple guidelines for their staff:
- Never separate patients from their families. “Medical procedures are scary enough, but being separated from loved ones who can provide support makes even routine procedures seem scarier.”
- Identify the need for emotional support. “Staff should be aware of patients’ and families’ emotions at each step of a process.”
- Never deny the patient or their family information
You can read more about the work at Partners in this excerpt from “Achieving Safe and Reliable Healthcare” by Michael Leonard, Allan Frankel and Terri Simmonds. There are also a ton of resources available via the Institute for Patient and Family Centered Care
At this week’s #hcldr tweetchat we will be discussing the role of family in patient care:
- T1: How can the patient benefit from family involvement in their care? How can the healthcare provider benefit?
- T2: Can you share an example of where you saw/experienced how effective families can be in patient care?
- T3: What can healthcare providers do to help families become more involved?
Please join us Tuesday April 16th at 8:30pm Eastern for our #hcldr tweetchat. Everyone is welcome!
See you Tuesday!
Image Credit: Milton Family Care Center (www.miltonfamilycarecenter.com)