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How Important Is Family Engagement in Patient Care?

The impact of COVID-19 on how the country perceives and engages with patient care cannot be understated. Now, care needs to continue to adapt to patients' needs like never before - and that includes encouraging family engagement in patient care. 

Empowering families to have input and ask questions can lead to better patient outcomes, overall safety and care quality. It also benefits your hospital and, of course, your patients. Here's why family engagement in patient care is so important.


 

Why Is Family Engagement So Important? 

Patient-centered care is grounded in respect.” - Jim Conway. 

 

Speaking on the importance of patient-centred care that engages families, Conway, former Chief Operating Officer at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, says, “It is not ours to decide. Our patients and families are taking us there.” 

 

Respecting and engaging your patients and their families in their care has many benefits. It's also directly linked to the quality of care and standard of health management or recovery a patient experiences.

 

Studies show that “partnering with patients and families has great potential to support high-quality healthcare and optimise outcomes.” This is true in both hospital and general practice settings. In hospitals specifically, nursing staff showcasing a positive attitude towards a patient’s family “can be beneficial to support quality nursing care, family cohesiveness and patient safety.”  

 

Improves Care 

Family input and involvement can have a direct link on the quality of care a patient receives. By introducing the patient's family into the care process and decisions, you're nurturing an environment of open conversation and questions. Their input on what they believe will work best for the patient and what kind of care they can provide at-home or support with is invaluable. 

 

Having the family present for appointments, tests or discussions allows them to voice opinions or concerns and give valuable insight. Information such as allergies, intolerances and family history can be given by family members. In some cases, such as when the patient is a child, family members may give more information on medical history than the patient themself. Thanks to COVID-19 the emergence of more digitally-based healthcare solutions, such as video and phone appointments, gaining input from family members is now easier than ever.

 

Patient Comfort and Confidence 

How a patient feels while in hospital or when attending an appointment is important. Patients who are scared, anxious, uncertain, shy or don’t feel comfortable asking questions, are patients who aren't engaged in their own care. 

 

For many patients, having a family member or friend with them gives them security and confidence. It also ensures more questions are asked, more discussion about the care takes place and that a family member acting as a carer can ask how to best care for and support the patient. 

 

The concept of family engagement in patient care isn't new. A study from 1996 concludes that “patients prefer direct family involvement in their health care more often than what occurs in practice.” While family involvement is a long-established idea, with the impact of COVID-19 on the NHS and the public, it's more important than ever to actively commit to family engagement. 

 

Recovery and Continued Care

For a patient recovering from a procedure or who has long-term health concerns that impact their ability to care for themselves, family engagement is paramount. Open communication with the patient and their family who are engaged in patient care will reduce improper care at home.

 

Giving a patient’s family a platform and empowering them to ask questions and make suggestions based on their first-hand knowledge means the patient will receive the best care at home and in a medical setting. 

 

Patient and Family Engagement In Practice

Implementing family and patient engagement as standard practice means changing processes and attitudes. Encouraging patients and their families to take part in their care, empowering and educating staff and incorporating new initiatives are some of the key ways to commit to family engagement in patient care. 

 

For an in-depth look at how to introduce patient and family engagement in your Trust, take a look at this five-step guide to get started

 

Family engagement is a priceless tool for providing the best patient care possible, for the insight it provides into the patient themself and the improved experience the patient has. Patient data is crucial in understanding what your patients need and expect. 

 

If you want to further improve your patients’ experience at your Trust by responding to their growing digital expectations and collecting important data but don't know which solution works best for you, go ahead and use our quiz below.

 

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Rebecca Duffin

Rebecca Duffin

Rebecca Duffin

Rebecca is a creative, design-led marketer who has worked for WiFi SPARK since 2012. She is the Head of Marketing and has an in-depth understanding of all elements of the business. She is responsible for lead generation, brand engagement and ensuring the company is the 'Go-To Provider' for more than just WiFi.