Why Family Caregivers Matter

a woman smiling
Curated by
Kristen Sachs
Content via New Dawn, New Day, New Life
New Dawn, New Day, New Life
Curated by
Kristen Sachs

Kristen is a caregiver for her husband Jeff who is a ventilator-dependent quadriplegic, and she shares an incident to highlight why she always stays with him whenever he is in the hospital.

man lies in a hospital bed next to a cot where his wife sleeps

Since Kristen performs all of Jeff’s medical care at their home on a daily basis, the couple feels most comfortable when she accompanies him during any hospital stay. “I always stay with Jeff when he's an inpatient,” Kristen shares. “His hospital stays are never a time for me to "get away" or to "let someone else take care of him." I have my own cot that I bring and set up next to his bed. Of course I always ask politely if I can stay with him. But I never take No for an answer.”

After Jeff’s recent surgery, when a team of hospital staff were preparing to transfer him from the gurney to the bed, Kristen asked if she could step in to assist with managing Jeff’s ventilator during the transfer. Jeff had been allowed to remain on his home ventilator during his stay, and Kristen was the only person in the room who was familiar with managing the vent.

“One of the nurses turned around and said to me, "Ma'am, you can step aside and wait over there. We can handle everything."”

Kristen reluctantly stepped aside. Just as the transfer was about to begin, a nurse lifted Jeff’s ventilator and one of the circuits popped off. Jeff was no longer getting the air he needed. Kristen immediately responded and fixed the situation.

It was an incident that left her and her husband shaken.

“I'm not sharing this incident to call out the nurse who pushed me aside,” writes Kristen. “I fully understand why she asked me to do so. The last thing these people need is a meddling, know-it-all relative all up in their business. But Jeff's care IS my business.”

At their home, Kristen performs all of Jeff’s care from transfers, to suctioning his lungs, to changing his trach. She is intimately familiar with his needs.

“I’m sharing this incident to show that family caregivers are vital pieces of a patient's care team. Every day we are on the front lines of care. And because we aren't bound by the rules and regulations that medical professionals work under (i.e, a nurse isn't allowed to touch a ventilator, and a respiratory therapist can't change a catheter, etc.) our knowledge is both deep and vast.”

Kristen says the remainder of the hospital stay went very smoothly despite the transfer incident. Still, she highlights this incident to show the importance of the presence of family caregivers even when the patient is in a setting such as a hospital and surrounded by medical professionals.

Share this post to show others why family caregivers are an important ally when it comes to a loved one's care.

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