If you work in healthcare, you probably it over and over again...patient centered care. Family centered care. Trauma informed care. They're all similar with their own nuances. It sounds good in theory or during grand rounds. But what does it look like to the doctor? To the bedside nurse? To the hospital as a whole?


This type of partnership is typical of the kind of family-centered care practiced in leading pediatric oncology hospitals. At its best, family-centered care is more than a marketing slogan. It’s a mindset woven into every aspect of a hospital’s culture. It means including the ideas of parents, teens and kids in the design of the treatment centers, as well as in the way the staff provides all aspects of care and support, including end-of-life care. It calls for training the entire staff and inviting parents and teen patients to talk with them about how to provide compassionate, inclusive care and improve patient and family experiences. Then, these staff members consider the perspectives offered by family members, and sometimes follow their advice."  


Doctors and nurses familiar with family centered care will note many areas of overlap between family centered and trauma informed care. Trauma informed care supports and strengthens family centered care. Trauma informed care brings a distinct focus on awareness of traumatic stress related to medical events, while also including a central role for  families and promoting family strengths.  


Aside from patient satisfaction, trauma informed and family centered care carry benefits including improved health outcomes, higher treatment adherence, and decreased hospital stays:


"Patient satisfaction is only part of what is achieved through family-centered care. Medical facilities that incorporate this philosophy believe that, when families and the staff work in partnership, they also end up with healthier patients... medication compliance levels are higher and complication rates are lower...family-centeredness can decrease the length of stay in the hospital as well as unplanned visits to the ER".  



However, both trauma informed and family centered care are not without challenges. Perceived lack of time, resources and misconceptions about what trauma informed and family centered care are pose barriers. Staff training and implementation of a simple framework like the DEF Protocol can go a long way to removing theses barriers.


Join in the conversation on our Facebook page to discuss if and how your hospital implements trauma informed and/or family centered care.