Background: Two studies were completed within a hospital system to determine the needs of family members who maintain vigil at the bedside of their loved ones. A movement worldwide, and specifically new to our hospital system, is the implementation of Patient and Family Centered Care. We conducted these two studies to be sure that we knew what needs were of our patients’ families. Using an acute care oncology unit and a stroke rehabilitation unit, we conducted a triangulated study used the qualitative methods of interviews and art therapy, and a quantitative method, the Family Needs Inventory (FIN Scale), to ascertain family member’s needs.
Method: Three-step process (open ended interview, use of the Draw a Bridge art therapy technique, and a survey eliciting family needs) was conducted with 19 family members of patients with a cancer diagnosis on our oncology unit and 12 family members of patients rehabilitating after a stroke.
Results: Themes of 31 interviews revealed needs for Physical Comfort, Emotional Support, Cultural Sensitivity, Recognition that Family Members Help and Pain Management. Art therapy accurately revealed the stress of caregiving and the need for family member support with interesting differences in the pictures between the two cohorts, oncology family members worried about pain relief and stroke family members worried about home care with a wheelchair. The Family Inventory of Needs, the interviews and the art revealed that care at home after discharge was a major worry.
CONCLUSIONS: Knowledge of family members’ needs while their loved ones were in the hospital allowed our two facilities to better support family members at the bedside. We now provide maps, meals, shower facilities and other items to increase their comfort. The Case Management team is integrating changes based upon the findings.