should families have an active role in caring for their relatives in ICU

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    I want to find out if most ICU nurses agrees that families can be allowed to help out with their relatives in ICU. ? and how far do you think can they help?.Can it be different cultures
    beliefs,fears are the biggest reason why family members can and sometimes cannot play their role to their family in the ICU.?
  2. Poll: should families have an active role in caring for their families in ICU

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  3. 4 Comments so far...

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    Yes! I totally agree with this. On the units in our hospital relatives are actively encouraged. Obviously they are frightened because of all the attachments etc. but once you explain things to them they are OK. We allow them to assist with bed bathing, turns, NG feeding under supervision. The consultants also ask their opinions of how they think the patient is doing.

    We started this because often the relatives said that they felt helpless and that they should be doing something.

    At first, the nurses resented having the relatives "interfere" because they felt threatened. However, perseverence paid off. The nurses now feel closer to the patients, through the relatives, and closer to the relatives.
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    Yes! they are a great help...turning, bething...all those things they really want done right...and they can do it or at least help! Believe me, it makes a difference in their opinion of the level of care their loved one gets and makes them feel needed. It's worth it!
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    I think they should be involved in the care. Especially where there are different cultures involved. A close family member or relative goes a long way to ensuring a cooperative patient when critical care needs to be rendered. Plus as it has been stated already, it helps aleviate fears and keeps the patient calm, over all improving the quality of care they recieve as well as facilitating with the recovery phase.
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    A lot depends on the patient, the family, the unit...this is too general a topic for me to say unconditionally "YES! "

    Not all families can understand critical care. Not all can handle critical situations. Some patients become more agitated with family present. When does family presence unfairly compromise the critical care unit/setting? Disrupt the important work being done under the less than optimal conditions we often work under today?

    So..my favorite answer is: direct family involvement (outside of normal visiting) should be at the nurses' discretion, keeping the patient's well being in primary consideration.

    Unfortunately, in my area too many families are demanding unlimited access, causing chaos in the unit and placing excess burden on overworked staff. Also am finding too much familiarity breeds a certain amount of contempt....families feel entitled to direct professional nurses and become more a hindrance than a help..their 'assistance' translates to 'demands'. Demands that unfairly take our time from our patient care.

    Perhaps this is uniquely an American problem...the 'Burger King mentality' and sense of entitlement. Perhaps this is not so overwhelmingly present in other parts of the US. But it is a definite problem where I am.

    Now if only I could convince my ICU director NOT to be so PC...<sigh> She wants open visiting...her staff does not...she doesn't care...we are feeling resentful...not a good situation.


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