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Nursing: Family Centered Care


Family centered care is a practice incorporates the family of a patient to be part of intensive care. The family in this case is the patient’s relatives or people that the patient considers closest to him. Mitchell et al refer to Family Centered Care as [an innovative approach to the planning, delivery, and evaluation of health care that is grounded in mutually beneficial partnerships among health care patients, families, and providers.

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Patient and family centered care applies to patients of all ages, and it may be practiced in any health care setting] (Mitchell et al., 2009, 543). Family Centered care therefore is a collaboration of the nurses and the family of the patient to provide intensive care. This collaboration between the family and the nurses results in complete care for the patient. Below is an overview of the Family Centered Care in the Intensive Care Unit.

The family Centered Care

The patient’s kin play an important role in critical care. They provide information when the patient is unable to speak and make decision for the patients. They are involved in making giving opinions, making, assessing and implementing care. As a result the family centered care benefits the patient. The intensive care “is based on mutual respect, collaboration, and support for the family and the patient” (Mitchell et al 2009, 544).

The family of the patient during intensive care expects that the health providers will notify and assure them of recovery as well as have access to see their relative. Family members who are allowed to assist in giving care ended up with a positive attitude. They assist in giving care even after the patient recovers and is discharged. The patient benefits from the company of the relative. After discharge the patient has an easier time coping with home care given by the relatives, while the relatives cope easily with the giving care.

Furthermore fewer readmission occur (Mitchell et al 2009, 544). According to Gavaghan, family centered care is the key to an all rounded care for intensive care patients. The family receives necessary information in order to support the patient. The nurses on the other hand receive support from the family, while the patient benefits from the intensive care.

In their study, Mitchell et al (2009, 543) observed that there are three indicators of family centered care. They include; respect, collaboration and support. Hennman and Cardin (2002, 65) affirms that the relatives feel respected if they are given information about the patient. The family cares to know the sleeping patterns, the medical procedures the patient is expected to undergo and if the patient is recovering. The family also needs to know when to offer help. This is because they are willing and ready to give support. In this case nurses explain what the family cannot understand, for instance when to let the patient rest. The family needs reassurance. When there is no hope, the family should be informed that the patients comfort is important.

York (2004, 84) found out that health providers have culturally been neglecting the patients family. While the patient is receiving medical attention, the relatives are left in the waiting area without any information. Centrally to that culture, the presence of the kinsmen could have a positive effect. As she further mentions, the family of the patient can alleviate the difficulty of accepting negative results after medical efforts to save life are unsuccessful.

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Providing Family centered care is a challenging task. A nurse must practice patience when dealing with the patient and the relatives (Cooley and McAllister, 1999, 121). They should have a positive attitude towards the support to provide intensive care to the patient. Another challenge is the Perceptions about the family. Nurses assume that relatives cause the patient to have stress and therefore time given for visitation is limited.

The nurses see this restriction as a benefit to the patient. This is because they create time for themselves rather than spent a lot of time in the hospital. Nurses should not assume that the presence of a relative on the bedside is an indicator of their inability to work. Also, patients on the other hand should not see the presence of relatives as invasion into their privacy. Instead, they should see it as collective support, to assist them recover. Hennman and Cardin (2002, 64) argue that the important point to consider is to ensure that the patients needs are the determining factor of every action.

In order to ensure that the family centered care is a success there should be some form of regulation. Order can be achieved if there are clearly outlined rules that explain what extend of care the family is allowed to give the patients. There should be a structure that is considerate of the patient, the relatives and the nurses. This will ensure that care is given at the right time, in the right way and by the right person. Information booklets or flyers can be availed to the patient’s relative so that there is understanding amongst them. The importance of this information is to clarify doubts, and states the dos and don’ts. The relatives could be allowed to give feedback in order to improve family centered care (Sisterhen et al., 2007, 319).


Family Centered care contributes to the recovery of a patient through combined efforts. The needs of the patient and the family are met while the nurse gets support in providing care. The patient needs should guide the actions in the family centered care. The end result of this relationship is that the family participates actively in giving support.

Reference List

Cooley, W. C., & McAllister, J. W. (1999). Putting Family-Centered Care into Practice: A Response to the Adaptive Practice Model. Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 20(2), 120-122.

Gavaghan, S. R. & Carroll, D. L. (2002). Families of critically ill patients and the effect of nursing interventions. Dimensions in Critical Care Nursing, 21(2), 64-71.

Henneman, E. A. & Cardin, S. (2002). Family-centered critical care: A practical Approach to making it Happen. Critical Care Nurse, 22(6), 12-19.

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Mitchell, M., Chaboyer, W., Burmeister, E., Foster, M. (2009). Positive Effects of Nursing Intervention on Family- Centered Care in Adult Critical Care. American Journal of Critical Care, 18(2), 543-552.

Sisterhen, L. L., Blaszak, R. T., Woods, M. B. & Smith, C. E. (2007). Defining family-centered rounds. Teaching and Learning in Medicine, 19(2), 319-322.

York, N. (2004). Implementing a Family Presence Protocol Option. Dimensions of Critical Care Nursing, 23(2), 84-88.

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