As A Nurse I Embrace the Patient and Family Centered Care Approach

by: Dawn C Dexter

As A Nurse I Embrace the Patient and Family Centered Care Approach

When I found out that the Memorial Health Care System was embarking on a journey towards Patient and Family-Centered Care (PFCC), I was excited and wanted to find out more information on this topic.

Did you know that the Patient and Family Centered Care philosophy recognizes three basic needs for patients and their families?

These needs are:

  • The need for information
  • The need for reassurance and support
  • The need to be near one another throughout the health care experience

The belief is that PFCC programs promote more effective partnerships with patients, families, and professionals. This leads to increased understanding and cooperation, improved patient safety, better health outcomes, and increased customer and staff satisfaction.

When my husband’s 100-year-old grandfather was sick in the hospital, I spent many days and nights at the bedside. I found the nurses, doctors, PCAs, and physical and respiratory therapists had all different levels of kindness and compassion.

I have been a nurse for 32 years. Sitting at Grandpa’s bedside gave me a different perspective. I wanted to be informed, and I wanted to be treated with respect.

Some of the information patients and their families want to know are:

  • When is the doctor coming to visit, or are they coming today?
  • What are my tests or goals for the day?
  • Can I have pain medication and how often?
  • If the pain medication does not work, can I have something else?
  • What are those medications for, and can I refuse them if I want to?

Being a nurse and having a loved one in the hospital makes you see things differently. It made me think about my patients.

“As a nurse at Memorial Hospital West, I welcome the change that Patient and Family-Centered Care brings. Nurses are in the “caring” profession and, as professionals, we should embrace anything that will empower the patient and family.”

Do I treat my patients as people or as a medical condition? As a family member of a patient, I expected to be informed and people to care form my loved one.

I worried at night and when I was working whether Grandpa was being treated right. He did get a bed sore, and he got a large hematoma below his right eye.

When I asked late one night if Grandpa could get pain medications because he was moaning and crying in pain, his nurse yelled me at. I was afraid to report these things because of the fear of how he would be treated when no family member could be at his bedside.

No one even cleaned his dirty dentures or combed his hair, the little things that are so important. As a patient and a family member you want to be informed and have your basic needs met.

Visiting hours were restricted, and the front doors of the hospital were locked at 8 pm. This made visitors feel unwelcome and patients feel alone at night.

The day Grandpa died, I was at work taking care of patients myself. Grandpa was in another hospital district.

I left work and, when I arrived at Grandpa’s location, I was saddened to see that only my family was at his bedside; no one from the staff came into the room. Being a nurse myself, I had to go with my mother-in-law to the nurse’s station and ask for the paper after his death.

There was no compassion or information, just a feeling of sadness because the nurses were cold and seemed uncaring at this sad time in our lives. Wow, I thought, as nurses we have very important jobs.

We have a set of patients, and we are dedicated to doing our tasks. However, we have to remember patients are people.

They have families and lives outside of the hospital. They are probably afraid and have a million questions for us. We have to remember that, while we are taking care of the patient, we are also taking care of the family too.

I am not trying to give these nurses a bad name. What I am trying to do is point out that nurses can make the patient and family experience better by just using the four principles of Patient and Family-Centered Care.

These principles are:

  • Dignity and respect
  • Information sharing
  • Participation
  • Collaboration

I wish these principles were used for Grandpa and my family. The experience we had would have been more of a positive one.

As a nurse at Memorial Hospital West, I welcome the change that Patient and Family-Centered Care brings. Nurses are in the “caring” profession and, as professionals, we should embrace anything that will empower the patient and family.

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