As a nurse, rarely do you only provide care for the patient. Your patient's family also requires your care and support, sometimes more than your patient. The traumatizing nature of hospitals, and especially critical care units, often stress a patient's and their families coping skills to the max. Through the daily care of your patients, you can support these families as they navigate the unfamiliar and uncertain situation of their loved one. Providing family centered care helps to reduce the patient and family's anxiety and is easy to implement into daily nursing care.

Family centered care can involve:
  • Allowing family members to visit and including them in rounds
  • Educating the families on the typical environment of hospital and what they'll see when visiting their loved one
  • Keeping the family up to date on the patient's current condition
  • Encouraging family members to practice good self-care

When supporting your patient's family, it's also important to consider the following:

Assess family members' distress
  • Ask parents, siblings, other family members how they're doing.
  • Are any family members having an especially difficult time?
Gauge family stressors and resources
  • Help family identify strengths and coping resources.
  • Encourage parents to use their support systems.
Address other needs (beyond medical)
  • Ask about other current stressors that hamper family's ability to cope with child's illness / injury / hospital stay.
  • Connect family with appropriate support services.

How do you support your patient's family and include them in your care?