• Initial life threatening illness or injury diagnosis
  • Seeing their child in pain, having invasive procedures or hooked up to medical equipment
  • Exposure to distress, or death of other patients
  • Ongoing uncertainty about prognosis
  • Treatment difficulties or set backs
  • Feeling helpless, or feelings of self-blame
  • Making decisions under high stress conditions
  • Fear of their child dying

Parents are understandably focused on helping their child, but it is also important to help them care for themselves. Balance is the key, since healthy parents will be better able to care for their children and guide their children to a full recovery emotionally and physically. Finding the right ways to help a patient’s family can be difficult, especially when the family might not know what support services are available at the hospital.

As a healthcare provider, asking the family a few questions can help them receive the extra care they need. Helping family members can be as simple as explaining what happens during shift change or showing them where to get coffee and something to eat. Or maybe you bring crayons and coloring paper to the patient’s siblings to help keep them occupied while the parents speak with the doctor. Gently remind your patient’s family that taking care of themselves by leaning on their support systems, taking a walk every now and again, or eating a meal in the cafeteria, will help them take care of their loved one better.

How do you help your patient’s family get the support they need?