I do check in less frequently. I tell the family member I make regular rounds, but that if they need anything or if there is a change in status to let me know immediately. I'm not going to check every half hour or hour that someone is ok if there is someone in there able to tell me if the pt is thrashing around, appears to be in pain, or has fallen to the floor.
If the pt is unstable, if the family member is sleeping, if the family member doesn't seem capable of recognizing when to call me (ie scared, mild dementia, that sort of thing), etc, I will check as regular as if I would check someone without family.
You need to speak with the nurse, let her know how often you are needing to suction, and that you want the nursing staff to check on him more frequently. Or, instead of providing all his care yourself, you need to hit the call light and request the nurse come to suction, etc. If a patient's family initiates the care (suctioning, turning, that sort of thing), and it's something they are comfortable doing, particularly if they are used to doing it at home, I typically let them do it. If they do it routinely at home, they know exactly how they want it done, and often as not, I don't do it like they do it. Many times it's their preference to perform this care.
As a nurse, you know how frustrating it is when family or the patient have a problem with the care, but don't actually speak up about their concerns. We've all heard the "I was in pain all night but no one offered me a pain pill." Really? In the 7 times we interacted over the course of the shift, why didn't you ask for one?
It's quite a new perspective, isn't it, being on the other side of the process. Your post is a nice reminder for all of us to keep those communication lines open and to ensure our patient families know that if they need assistance, they need to use their call light.