Core Nursing Practices: Promoting Family Involvement in Care For Mentally-ill Family Members

Nurse holding patient's hand

People with mental illnesses frequently receive primary care from their families. Despite the difficulties that families caring for a mentally ill family member may face, some of these families may show strengths that enable them to go through hurdles and become even stronger in their caregiving. The mentally ill family member frequently relapses when these families are unable to manage. Professional nurses who care for patients with mental illnesses need to broaden their responsibilities to include training and additional support for family carers.

Implications to the Nursing Practice
In many cases, nurses are working alongside family caregivers on the front lines. They have witnessed the expansion of the family caregiver duty without the necessary training or assistance. Even though it is performed out of necessity and affection, informal caregiving can be risky, as in the case of prescription errors. An inclusive culture that fosters high-quality nursing care, family cohesion, and patient safety can be facilitated by nurses adopting a favorable attitude toward patients' families.

Challenges Of Family Caregivers
Family caregivers frequently lack the confidence to offer care, lack the ability to do so properly, and receive little support from formal health care providers. In part, because nurses frequently are not aware of the strengths and weaknesses of both the patient and caregiver, nurses and family caregivers rarely agree upon specific needs or difficulties during hospital admission or discharge. 

Family caregivers could not know the kind of care they need to deliver or how much care is required because they lack the necessary knowledge and skills. In addition to not knowing when they require community resources, family caregivers may also not know how to obtain and effectively use those resources. In order to help their family member, caregivers frequently disregard their own health needs.

How Nurses Can Help Family Caregivers
Caregivers are essential in helping sick, elderly, or disabled family members. There is no question that the state of their loved one's mental health has an impact on their families. Families offer emotional support to a relative who has a mental illness in addition to providing practical assistance and personal care. As a result, the care recipient is dependent on the caregiver, and their wellbeing is directly tied to the type and standard of care they receive.

In a variety of settings, including inpatient units and outpatient clinics for mental health, nurses are in a prime position to evaluate caregiver burnout. When caregivers go with the care receiver, it gives nurses a good opportunity to check for burnout. Viewing the client holistically correlates with acknowledging the caregiver. It also acknowledges the complex bond between caregivers and care recipients and the influence that each party's well-being has on the other.

Most family caregivers have no desire to cause damage to their loved ones. However, a lack of competence increases the likelihood that patients will be hurt, neglected, or abused. An important aspect of a nurse's job is educating patients and their family caregivers. Family members can help improve their loved one’s health status with the help of education. When the family is actively involved in care, patients are more likely to participate in interventions that might raise the likelihood of successful results.

Family caregivers must be ready to meet the responsibilities of their new roles. This entails obtaining medical attention and support on a psychological, social, and spiritual level. These treatments vary significantly depending on the patient's mental health diagnosis. Nurses can greatly aid the support of family carers. Nursing professionals can spot potential skill gaps and manage a lack of caregiver resources due to their significant expertise. Since they are in contact with both the patient and the caregiver on a regular basis, nurses also have the unique professional perspective to better coordinate treatment and guarantee the patient's safety during non-business hours.

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