In person-centered care, the involvement of a patient's family is crucial and highly valued. Cancer Center Amsterdam affiliates recognize the importance of the family unit in a person's well-being and aims to engage and support family members as active participants in the care process.
Empowering Families in the Care Process
Originally trained as a nurse, Dr. Anne Eskes is now an associate professor focused on family engagement. “Families are the very heart of the crucial support network that many patients with cancer need,” says Anne. “Traditionally in healthcare, the focus is solely on the patients and curing the disease. But engaging the families can unlock so much more, from improving shared decision making to active participation in a person’s care.”
Anne is leading a research program exploring training family members to care for a loved one who undergo cancer surgery. Willing family members are invited to a post-surgical 5-day training program that involves staying in the hospital 24 hours a day. They receive education on medication administration, symptom management, or other aspects of care. “We are equipping them with the necessary skills to assist in the patient’s care at home,” Anne says.
Many Benefits, Maintaining Balance
Training family members to provide care at home has several key advantages that can improve a patient’s quality of life, including improved continuity of care, increased comfort, and a sense of security and independence. It can also help reduce the financial burden associated with professional caregiving services.
Anne points out that family caregivers also face challenges. “It is important to maintain a balance. Serving as a caregiver for a family member can be emotionally challenging and there is a risk of caregiver burnout. So, we also look at that.”
In the pursuit of person-centered care, recognizing and harnessing the strength of families can truly transform the care experience by fostering a collaborative and supportive environment that maximizes the well-being of both patients and their loved ones. Through ongoing research and innovation, researchers like Anne Eskes and her colleagues continue to refine and enhance family engagement practices, ensuring that families remain at the core of compassionate and effective healthcare.
Text Laura Roy.
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