“As I paced to and fro in the corridors of the hospital,
while my father was in surgery, I was really worried how I
will take care of all hospital expenses, going to the
office and also spending time with him, all at once”
quoted Rajan (son).
“Coming to Porvoo was the right decision for me. It is
less expensive than the hospital and safer than home care.
At home, I wouldn’t have been able to give the same amount
of affection to my father as I would have stressed myself
out. Here, I believe that my father is in safe hands and
when I talk to him, he also brags about how the staff
keeps him in a positive mood”, Rajan laughed.
There are many families and patients like Rajan’s that we come across in our daily lives. At Porvoo, we strongly believe that along with medical care a patient’s recovery process is enhanced by the surrounding environment. Our centre is designed keeping the above in mind. As a policy, we encourage family meetings and family members staying with patients for reasonable periods. With family around, they don’t feel apprehended at the facility and feel more homely.
Patient and family engagement has been defined as “a relationship between health care providers working together to promote and support active patient and public involvement in health care and to strengthen their influence on health care decisions at an individual and collective level”. In today’s article, we will brief you about the necessity of involving family for improving the health of the patient.
Benefits of family engagement
The term “family-centred” does not remove control from competent patients to make decisions concerning their health care. Instead, this concept emphasizes that a patient’s health care decisions should be contextualized in terms of a patient’s broader life experiences. This term also recognizes the role a patient’s family members play in extended caregiving.
1. Improves the quality of care
As we discussed in our previous article, how India is facing an acute shortage of healthcare workers , with family around, the quality of care can be improved. If a nurse is being called away for an emergency, the family member might prove to be “an extra help” for the patient as well as the nurse. The member cannot make medical decisions but can help during meals, individual hygiene and all kinds of general needs that a patient might have.2. Sense of security amongst patients
When a patient is hospitalised or admitted to any healthcare facility, they are unknown to the setting. With the family being around, the patient is at ease as it ensures them an environment of safety and security. One of our patients said, “my brother doesn’t feel comfortable with unfamiliar faces at first, but seeing them regularly, he gets used to them.” For such patients, we encourage the family members to be with them for a reasonable amount of time as they act as an effective psychological and emotional support to patients.3. Improves hospital performances
The family member enrols for holistic care when the patient is in a hospital setting. Knowing the various types of questions a family can come up with for the patient’s condition, the nurses and the doctors keep themselves well versed with the situation and give appropriate information concerning the provision of effective care to their loved ones (patient).
4. Family is aware of the condition after the patient is discharged
The patient is only discharged from the healthcare facility when they are no more dependent on the external equipment for functioning smoothly but when a patient is returning home, there are few precautions that the family needs to take care of. For instance, activities like moving around the house, taking medicines on time, helping with daily activities, etc. by being appropriately educated about the condition of the patient, the members will know exactly what to do when.5. Quick decision making
Engaging the patient’s family in the healthcare plan of the patient ensures the building of the trust between care providers and the patient family which helps in better decision-making. With family members around, the patient doesn’t have to make difficult choices all alone. Family involvement in decision-making spans over a wide spectrum. In cases where the patient is not in a position to make sound decisions, the responsible family member makes the final call. It can even prove to be disputing sometimes as not all hospitals or patients themselves want to involve the family in decision making.
Challenges of family engagement1. Providing medical explanation to the family
Patient’s hospitalization is not a pleasant thing for any individual in the family, so everyone is eager to know the condition of their loved one. Most people do not have formal medical education and training and will have less understanding of medical terms, treatments, and medications. Thus, if a patient or their family members don’t understand the diagnosis, the treatment plan or anything related to the medications, the nurse or the doctor will use daily life words to acquaint them with the situation.
2. Many family members near the patient
It is not intervention, it is the concern of the family member towards their loved ones when they plan on visiting the patient post their surgery. The family support is an essential need for the patient but having too many people around can be dangerous too. As the patient comes out of the surgery, they become sensitive towards the common environment and can get infected very easily. So, to avoid any such situation, the family needs to take an extra precaution while visiting. It is also highly recommended that family members who can help in the psychological building of patients should be around most of the time.3. Patient’s religious and cultural beliefs
The challenge for health professionals is in understanding that patients often turn to their religious and spiritual beliefs when making medical decisions. Religion and spirituality can impact decisions regarding diet, medicines based on animal products, modesty, and the preferred gender of their health providers.
FUTURE OF THIS APPROACH
As we further researched the “family-oriented care” approach towards patients, our medical superintendent quoted, “The recovery of a patient is a combination of medical aid and proper mental and emotional support. Whilst doctors take care of the medical aspect, by following the protocols and procedures, we can together smoothen the emotional and mental aspect of recovery.” At Porvoo, we prevent such unprecedented accidents and miscommunication through healthy and transparent communication with the patient’s family. This also helps to ease the recovery process of the patient.