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How Important Is Family Engagement in Patient Care?

5 minute read

Families play a vital role in the health and well-being of individuals, particularly in healthcare. Research shows family engagement in healthcare leads to better health outcomes, improved patient satisfaction and lower healthcare costs. 

However, family engagement is often overlooked in healthcare settings. In this article, we explore the importance of family engagement in healthcare and how you can implement strategies to promote family engagement. 

 

Why Is Family Engagement So Important? 

Respecting and encouraging patients and their families to engage in their health has many benefits. It's 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. 

A study by Benjamin and colleagues videotaped family-centred rounds in 150 hospitalised children. Findings suggested that family-initiated communication about medication topics resulted in appropriate changes to the children’s medications that altered treatment and were important for safety, adherence and satisfaction.

 

Family Engagement Improves Care for Patients

Family input and involvement can directly link to 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, as well as what kind of care they can provide at home or support is invaluable.

Family members can give information such as allergies, intolerances and family history. In some cases, such as when the patient suffers from dementia, family members may provide more information on medical history than the patient themself.

Since COVID-19, the emergence of more digitally-based healthcare solutions, such as video and phone appointments, has paved the way for increased input from family members.

 

 

Family Engagement Improves Patient Comfort and Confidence

How a patient feels while in hospital or attending an appointment is important. Patients who are scared, anxious, uncertain, shy or uncomfortable asking questions often aren't engaged in their own care. 

For many patients, having a family member or friend by their side gives them security and confidence. It also ensures more questions are asked, more discussion about their 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.

 

Family Engagement Improves Recovery and Continued Care

Family engagement is paramount for a patient recovering from a procedure or long-term health concerns that impact their ability to care for themselves. 

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 they’ll 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. 

You can introduce patient and family engagement in your Trust in five steps:

  1. Spearhead Initiatives Through Leadership
  2. Invite Patients and Families To Be Partners
  3. Empower Staff
  4. Encourage Family Participation
  5. Equip and Support Patients

The insight family engagement provides allows you to understand what your patients need and expect, and is crucial for their care.  

 

SPARK a Change in Patient Experience

Implementing family engagement is seamless with SPARK® Media and the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) engagement solution we offer Trusts. 

The BYOD solution allows patients and visitors to use their own devices during their time in hospital and receive free entertainment, engagement and information, via the free Hospital WiFi, helping connect families throughout the hospital stay, to actively encourage keeping family engagement and morale high.

Speak to our team today to learn more about SPARK® Media – our media solution that gives your staff, patients and visitors a better experience through secure and reliable WiFi – deliver entertainment to patients easily and educate them throughout their healthcare journey.

 

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