Emily Carr – Adult Nursing Student, Northumbria University, Newcastle, UK
My experience of family nursing
The word ‘family’ evokes, for many, the traditional sense of a nuclear family: wife, husband and children, but the modern world demands an ever developing need to move away from this restricted view. This is especially pertinent within the healthcare setting when people often find themselves at their most vulnerable and most in need of familiar support. Some of our service users may indeed fall into this basic unit of family, but there are many who will not. The definitions and diversity of family relations is constantly growing as bonds of love and connection transcend the need for adherence to tradition, and this cannot be ignored if we are to adhere to person-centred and individualised care. Within the field of adult nursing, it is vital to consider that when discussing patient care, the contribution and care of family members make can be invaluable in developing patient-specific care, especially if the patient in question lacks capacity or is unable to provide us with information that the family would be able to. The family could, for example, suggest ideas that we as nurses unfamiliar with the patient’s background and preferences would have never thought of, for example, certain bathing products, topics of conversation that could engage the patient, or even the kind of food that they know would bring them joy. Family nursing falls within the nurse’s remit in that it focuses on the care of the family as whole, not just the patient themselves, as the patient’s condition could have a negative impact the family, and it is our job to support them all throughout this time in their lives. Family meetings and team reviews are particularly insightful when gauging the family dynamics and the different ways in which we can collaboratively promote the wellbeing of the patient, and in allowing us to provide care for the whole family. It is also incredibly humbling and informative to be reminded of how important the care we deliver is to the family of the patient, to benefit both themselves and family members, and to receive any insight which could be beneficial in the patient’s recovery. This in turn, cares for the family by settling any anxieties they may have to rest.
“Family nursing falls within the nurse’s remit in that it focuses on the care of the family as whole… it is our job to support them all throughout this time in their lives.”