The family of a patient in ICU can be anxious and angry for various reasons. The anger comes from the frustration of seeing their loved ones in a weak state, and they cannot help. Hospitals should have support programmes to cater for needs of ICU patient relatives.
Role of the family support programme for ICU patient relatives
Empathize and Listen To Concerns
Loved ones of a patient in critical care such as spouses, children, and parents will have many questions as well as interests. They will want to get much information as possible about the likely outcomes of the ongoing treatment.
Nurses and physicians should carefully listen to the relatives for them to see that the care team is acknowledging their concerns. Listening does not mean just staying quiet when the family talks. Listening requires mental presence. It is essential to avoid distractions although it might be difficult to do that for long when nursing a patient in ICU. The relatives only require a few minutes for a nurse or doctor to take a moment of listening to understand what they need to communicate.
A nurse or doctor should not only take in words but also look for body language and facial expressions. Repeating their communication in own words is an excellent way to make them know you understand what they communicated. It also helps to solidify that information in mind and act on it in time for the next conversation.
Show That the Hospital Cares and Trying It Best
A clinician is the best person to address this part about the particular health condition of the patient. It is essential to let the relatives know about the status of the patient and assure them that the medical team is there to help. A doctor should create a moment to answer questions about patient recovery or worsening of the disease.
A nurse can get similar questions. The best approach is listening but follows up with the correct person for an accurate answer. Politeness is essential for nurses and physicians to show their care to patient families. It is critical to use some formality when addressing them. Use their last names and explains the medical conditions informal but explicit language that they can understand. It is essential to avoid being defensive even if the family members make annoying remarks or ask many questions. They are just fearful of their patient and keeping cal pm will alleviate their anger. The medical team should not take the issue personally and show some hope.
Explain the Diagnosis and Prognosis
Sometimes it is essential to be realistic by letting the family know the likely outcome of critical care when there is a possibility that the disease will not respond to treatment. It will help to prepare them for the likely happening. The support program should provide realistic information but offer some hope. For instance, if a patient is suffering from malignant mass, a doctor can see some masses are resistant to treatment but is hopeful that the one affecting the patient will heal.
Sharing such information should use minimal jargon and begin with a warning shot such as “there are some difficult issues to communicate.” Such information should only be between the medical team and the person who acts on behalf of the patient and not everyone due to respect for privacy.
It is essential to determine what the next of kin knows about the illness before releasing the information. For instance, a patient with cancer may not have shared the condition with a spouse. It will be shocking to say that the cancer cells are multiplying when the recipient of the news does not even know that the nature of the illness. The right approach in such a situation is to begin by explaining the cause of patent to be in ICU.
A family support program for ICU patients should have seasoned counselors who can encourage the relatives during treatment or anything that follows the procedure.