Family-Centered Care – Part II

Tracy Davenport, Ph.D. Health Guide
  • In Part I of this blog, I described what family-centered care is, and how you may recognize it when it is being practiced. In Part II, I will provide information that will help you decide whether or not to seek family-centered care for your medical needs. I will first address why you may not want to work with a doctor who is practicing family-centered care, and then I will explain why it may be worth your time to seek out family-centered care.

    Why you may not want to pursue family-centered care:
    Family-centered care can be tricky business. What is important “to” the family has to be balanced with what is important “for” the family. This can be a huge balancing act for the doctor and the family, and requires not only tremendous skill in communication by both parties, but also a willingness of the family and the doctor to take risks for the good of the patient. In other words, what may be important “to” the family may be different than what is typically practiced by the physician, and may require him or her to step away from tradition in order to accommodate the family’s wishes. The family also may need to be flexible in agreeing to a plan of treatment that is difficult, but necessary, “for” the patient.
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    In family-centered care, power struggles and role definitions between the family and the doctor have to be worked out from the beginning of the relationship, either with words or with a mutual understanding through actions. Neither party can be afraid of the question: “Who empowers whom?”

    And finally, with a shift in power from the doctor to the family, comes a shift in responsibility. If your family is going to be part of the medical team, then you have to be willing to be an active, educated participant.

    Why you should pursue family-centered care:
    Not only does it make intuitive sense, but the research evidence shows strong support for family-centered care in promoting the psychosocial well-being of children who are patients and their parents.

    Healthcare providers are with your child only a fraction of the time you are with them. Family members are the constant of care for most patients. Simple logic tells us that observations made by the family may be an invaluable resource in discovering what is really going on with the patient. Family-centered care recognizes that family participation is priceless.
Published On: January 24, 2007