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The Critical Role of Family in Patient Care

by Jaleel Rowe
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Involving family in a patient’s treatment plan improves outcomes and recovery. Learn why family inclusion is so important and how it benefits patients. The importance of family involvement in patient care cannot be overstated. 

As both a patient advocate and medical professional, I have seen firsthand how critical it is to include family in the treatment process. 

In this article, I’ll use research and personal anecdotes to illustrate why family inclusion leads to better health outcomes, improved patient satisfaction, and faster recovery times.

Families Provide Crucial Emotional Support

A hospital stay can be an incredibly stressful and frightening experience for a patient. The unfamiliar setting, health issues, and medical procedures can leave patients feeling lonely, anxious, and depressed. 

Family members provide vital emotional support and reassurance that helps patients cope during this difficult time.

My own grandmother was hospitalized last year after a bad fall. Having her children and grandchildren visit gave her a much-needed morale boost. 

She said that seeing our faces lifted her spirits and motivated her to push forward with physical therapy so she could regain her mobility and independence. 

Researchers have found that patients with good family support experience less depression, greater life satisfaction, and reduced risk of mortality.

Families Help Patients Understand Complex Medical Info

Navigating complex health conditions and treatment options is extremely challenging, especially during illness or after surgery when patients are tired and overwhelmed. 

Families can help explain complicated medical terminology and procedures in simple terms that make sense to the patient. 

They can take notes, ask clarifying questions, and serve as an advocate when communication breakdowns occur.

I’ll always remember when my dad was hospitalized with heart problems. The cardiologist would explain things using advanced medical jargon that went over my dad’s head. 

But with my mom there taking notes and asking for clarification, he was able to understand his condition, the stent procedure, and aftercare instructions. This reduced his anxiety and empowered him to be actively involved in his treatment plan.

importance of family involvement in patient care

Families Ensure Follow-Through on Discharge Plans

Successfully transitioning home after a hospital stay requires diligently following discharge orders for medications, wound care, physical therapy exercises, and follow-up appointments. 

Left alone, patients may feel overwhelmed trying to manage these crucial aftercare tasks. Families reinforce discharge plans and provide hands-on support to ensure instructions are followed.

When my wife had knee replacement surgery, her discharge orders included a long list of things to remember – prescriptions to fill, exercises to do, foods to avoid, incision care, and more. 

With my support after she got home, I was able to remind her of the doctor’s orders, drive her to physical therapy, and help with daily activities so she could properly rest and recover. This reduced the risk of complications and sped up her rehabilitation.

The Takeaway

Medical teams who encourage family participation find that patients have better treatment adherence, fewer complications, and higher satisfaction scores. 

Involving loved ones leads to optimal patient outcomes. Whether it’s providing encouragement during a hospital stay or aftercare support at home, families play an indispensable role. 

The collective message from research and personal experience is clear – integrating family into a patient’s care is a best practice that improves well-being.

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