When a patient with a disability or chronic impairment embarks on a hospital stay, the role of a family caregiver becomes a crucial one. “The reality of hospital care today is that nurses, doctors and therapists perform assessments and procedures from time to time, but they cannot attend to the patient all day, every day,” writes Donna Thompson, an author, disability activist, and caregiver to her son Nicholas.
Donna advocates for increased recognition of the important role family caregivers play when their loved ones are hospitalized. Family caregivers aren’t just there for the comfort of or to relieve anxiety for patients. More often, they are performing critical tasks like specialized personal care and acting as a conduit between the patient and hospital staff.
“Today’s wards are staffed based on caring for a sick, but otherwise independent patient population, but the reality is that the more dependent the patient, the more he or she needs a family caregiver in the hospital.”
Donna recognizes that while doctors, nurses, and staff members are highly trained and compassionate, the reality is that they simply cannot perform the hands-on tasks that family caregivers can. And because these caregivers play an integral part in caring for patients during hospital stays, they deserve to be”recognized as essential components of the treatment team.”
“Just because family care is borne of love and is unpaid, it shouldn’t be deemed arbitrary, frivolous or a luxury. Family care is essential in hospitals, so let’s start talking about it that way.”
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