The role of family-centered care in healthcare reform

The role of family-centered care in healthcare reform

As the need for healthcare reform becomes more pressing in the United States, a number of new concepts and systems have been proposed for implementation. Among them are a number of elemental shifts in the thinking of healthcare providers. For instance, the provider’s role must adjust to emphasize engagement of the patients and encourage them to take an active role in their own health. More drastically, health care as a whole will begin to focus on prevention and promotion as opposed to the traditional core of acute care. Stemming from this shift in concept is the family-centered care model. As implied, family-centered care designs treatments and care around the patient and the patient’s family. They are primarily supported by a care delivery team, which includes the physician, registered nurse, or respiratory care practitioners. The care delivery team is supported by the unit based team and the multidisciplinary team, which ranges from dieticians to chaplains. Though the idea of family-centered care has been prevalent for over 50 years and is considered to be the best healthcare model for children and families, it has faced a number of challenges in implementation. Recently, it has risen to great popularity as a new model to revolutionize healthcare (Romaniuk et al. 2014).

Visual representation of the family-centered care model .

Visual representation of the family-centered care model .

Ultimately, family-centered care aims to fully recognize and utilize the expertise and importance of family members providing care, which is not consistently accomplished under the current system (Hostler 1991). For this reason, the family-centered care model is largely founded on common sense and logic. Parents and family members are often the most committed advocates for their children and relatives. Thus, it is logical that they should be heavily involved in care discussions with the care delivery team. Furthermore, medical providers are often challenged by cultural differences and are occasionally criticized for not being able to provide the most culturally appropriate care. By involving family members in the discussion and implementation of care, one would expect this cultural gap to diminish, given that the patient and family will have the opportunity to share their own outlook on the situation and potential treatments. Finally, family-centered care naturally complements value-based care by placing emphasis on desired outcomes instead of a laundry list of possible interventions.

 

However beneficial family-centered care will be to health care, a number of items must be addressed prior to complete implementation. Research must be conducted to identify what key facts and concepts should be communicated to the families and in what manner (Chusilp et al. 2012). It is imperative that the research spans all patient populations. A great deal of the current literature focuses on implementing family-centered care in pediatric patients. Children are not the only patients that will benefit from family-centered care; the care of young adults, middle-aged adults, and elderly populations can also improve as family-centered care encourages communication with the families. In many cases, particularly for children and elderly, the families can provide important information regarding the patient’s daily life and adherence to treatment plans. To achieve the best outcome, the gap between how families want to participate and how they participate in actuality must be minimized. Oftentimes, families’ active participation is dependent on their own perception of what roles the physicians and nurses are and should be playing. In a family-centered care model, these issues must be addressed by open communication to minimize care-related stress within the family (Romaniuk et al. 2014). In conclusion, family-centered care has the unique potential to alter the way health care is practiced and perceived in the United States. These changes in practice may also influence health care expenditure by depreciating the norm of physician reimbursement by number of interventions.

 

Chusilp, K., Kosuwon, P., Panthongwiriyakul, C., Thepsuthammarat, K., Supakom, S., & Sutra, S. (2012). Thai infant health situation: essential medical information for family centered care. Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand, 95(7), 24–29.
Hostler, S. L. (1991). Family-centered care. Pediatric Clinics of North America, 38(6), 1545–1560.
Romaniuk, D., O’Mara, L., & Akhtar-Danesh, N. (2014). Are parents doing what they want to do? Congruency between parents’ actual and desired participation in the care of their hospitalized child. Issues in Comprehensive Pediatric Nursing, 1–19. doi:10.3109/01460862.2014.880532