Advice for Family & Friends

Published On 07/01/2013

Having family and friends close by helps both patients and us. You know things about the patient that we don’t, and we want to learn from you.

Here are a few extra things we’d like you to know.

Partners in Care

  • Introduce yourself to the medical team if you are a partner in care (one of the two contacts listed in the patient’s medical record), so we know it’s OK to share health information about the patient with you.
  • Ask for an introduction of any team member you do not know. Ask them to explain their role.
  • Share updates about your loved one’s condition with your other family members.
  • Ask the care team to explain any medical word or test result you don’t understand. NEVER be embarrassed or intimidated to ask, “What do you mean?”
  • Help us keep your loved one comfortable. Ask them if they would like toiletries from home or need help with things like brushing teeth, washing their face, or applying lotion or ChapStick.
  • Provide an extra set of eyes. If something doesn’t seem right about your loved one, call it to the attention of the doctor or nurses.
  • Ask the patient if they would like your help as they work with doctors and nurses on decisions about their treatment plan and follow up care.
  • Some patients may need your help limiting time with guests when they don’t feel up to talking or visiting.

Take Care of Yourself!

  • Both you and your loved one need rest, quiet time and nutrition. Poor nutrition and lack of sleep will make you weak, able to think less clearly and feel the effect of stress more strongly.
  • Give the nurse your contact information or write it on the whiteboard in the room before you leave the hospital to take a break. Make sure you have phone numbers for the nurses’ station and your loved one’s attending physician.
  • Take shifts with other family or friends if you feel the patient needs someone at the bedside all the time.

Plan for Discharge

  • Begin asking questions about the patient’s discharge early. It is very important to plan ahead.
  • If you plan to help the patient recover at home, spend time at the hospital to learn how. If there are special care needs like changing dressings or giving shots, you’ll need time to learn and practice with the nurses.