Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Should we expect relatives to provide essential care in hospital?

  • Comments (15)

I was talking to a nurse last week about workload on wards. She suggested that initiatives such as restrictive visiting and protected mealtimes prevent families from participating in the delivery of care and pointed to other countries where families are expected to provide care and food in hospital.

What do you think?

  • Do you think families should be more involved in providing physical care?
  • How does this affect the role of the nurse?
  • What can we learn from community services about family involvement in care?
  • Comments (15)

Readers' comments (15)

  • Anonymous

    Families should be involved in their relatives care as much as the patient would like them to be, but I think there should be an expectation that nurses will actually care for patients.

    Yeah protected meal times and restrictive visiting are barriers to relatives involvement in their loved-ones care. Personally, I'd have 8-8 visiting, but ward managers seem to want to retain restrictive visiting times.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Anonymous

    After being really ill myself some years ago I would have more restricted visiting in shared wards, It is horrible having an endless stream of visitors around other peoples beds, is noisy takes away all privacy and prevents patients getting any rest, and visitors are all ears into overhearing doctors rounds,
    I see the point of help from relatives but can we really not afford to have sufficient staff in the NHS.
    unrestricted visiting would however reassure relatives of good care, I see both sides

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Anonymous

    In other countries relatives are expected to provide care. In Spain, for example, a relative has to be nominated and they are responsible for the personal care of the patient. Why shouldn't relatives help feed the patient?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Anonymous

    In my opinion, restrictive visiting is a must. It worked in the `old days'.
    As far as family involvement, what will happen to patients who do not have family members capable or willing to provide this care which [as far as I learnt] basic care.
    I think that when there were nurses provided total care we all knew where we were; care was provided by staff who were trained to provide excellent care to the sick person and the family did not have to be actively involved.
    As we keep moving the line, chaos ensues. Caring should be a thing nurses do for those who need it; in the hospital setting. Home care is different, of course.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Anonymous

    I think it is a bril·liant idea to involve family/relatives to provide personal care . imaging one nurse has to deal with 14 patients excellent care ?? when do you get the time to feed them bath them and take them to the toilet , ensure they take their medication on time.

    if i have to give excellent care to my patient i need more time to spent with them but when you have 14 in a shift you just try your best.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • We don't have nuclear families like we used to. Many people may not want their family members providing intimate care, although feeding would be more acceptable. There are 2 sides to the argument of restricted v open visiting. I understand open visiting was stopped from an infection control perspective. Open visiting can also interfere with care/treatment from staff and the rest and dignity of other patients. One might argue that single rooms would solve that problem, but that is another story, with it's concerns, and not to be debated here. Restricted visiting and protected mealtimes make it less possible for relatives to support essential care. I would like to add, at this point, how delighted to see the term 'essential' care used, instead of 'basic' care. It would seem that not all patients would need relative input in their care and not all would like it. It maybe something that would need to be assessed on an individual basis during the early stages of admission, once the MDT had completed their assessments. I also believe, where patients are having rehabilitation, then input from 'future' carers should be encouraged, rather than them not being prepared for this role or being expected to pick up that role on discharge. I think the idea of family involvement could be encouraged, but not expected, as we live in a culture, in the UK, where almost everyone is encouraged to work for a living. Also, elderly relatives abilities need to be taken into consideration too. I think the concept of relative input would work, if it was approached sensitively and on an individual basis, but not across the board.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Anonymous

    Yes yes yes yes and yes.
    I helped with my mum in hospital, by giving her drinks and mashing food to feed her. I also washed her face and feet, and tidied her locker. I would rather have done it than leave it to a stranger, the time was precious as she died shortly afterwards.
    In the opposite bed was a woman in a similar position, and her daughter spent her time carping that "nobody has come yet to feed (etc) her mother" and other type complaints. I did mention that if she were to help with simple tasks it would make it more comfortable for her mother, which she did.

    I think people have become so dependent of having things done for them that they are now incapable of either looking after themselves or their loved ones, and it is becoming a drain on the NHS.

    In first contact care in the community, a lot of my time is spent educating people of what they can do for themselves instead of constantly rushing to A&E/OOH, walk in centres (which are closing) etc.

    Most people in my experience want to help, and this should be encouraged on admittance, with outlining simple tasks that can be carried out by relatives. It helps alleviate the helplessness that one feels when a loved one is poorly, gives them something positive to do instead of feeling helpless. Full body care should be the domain of nurses, but simple tasks can be carried out by relatives easily.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Anonymous

    I think relatives/close friends/carers should be asked whether they wish to be involved and to what extent with the patient's care. Everyone needs to know where they stand. Most people would want to help with feeding, as long as there was no risk to the patient. I think more people would help if they were encouraged to do so, but a nurse needs to say "you are welcome to help but please say if at any time you wish to stop". i think sometimes we forget that most people don't have a clue what goes on in hospital and are worried about doing the "wrong thing", so tend to let staff get on with it. I personally would not ask anyone to get involved with personal care but if they broached the subject first then why not? Unless of course the patient needed help to move. If the patient just needs help to wash their back because they can't reach, their feet for same reason, etc etc then there is no reason why family/carer couldn't help. However, this could of course only happen if the patient was able to communicate agreement and didn't feel under pressure to agree.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Anonymous

    I've certainly had to care for my parents in hospital because I knew they would have no care unless I did it. I was scared to leave my dad in an understaffed unit because he'd had a stroke. Choice wasn't a factor. It's scary to have an elderly relative in hospital.





    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Anonymous

    why wouldn't I want to look after my relatives when they are in hospital, they looked after me for years and I owe it to them. it's no great deal to help them eat the food they like, get them dressed, take them out for a while, buy food and drinks that I know they will eat. why would I want either them or myself to be totally dependent on the health service.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Show 1020results per page

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment.

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.