Family caregivers can assist in recovery

Marueen Healy, NP, describes the importance of family caregivers.

Maureen Healy, NP
Founder, Virtual Healing

When I started Virtual Healing, I didn’t realize what I do would hit so close to home. My company is a telehealth service. We offer healthcare education to family caregivers who support their loved ones’ recovery following hospitalization.

My cousin has been in an Intensive Care Unit for over a week. She is at high risk for developing preventable conditions like pneumonia, blood clots, and/or skin break down. Any one of these complications can threaten her life.

My cousin cannot assist in her own care; she cannot even turn in bed. She unconsciously depends on her nurses and family to be her advocates. Because of the national shortage of nurses in hospitals across the country, professional caregivers are overtaxed simply providing acute care. An RN’s training helps to anticipate and prevent other disease processes; however, due to time constraints, both the nurse and the patient can use all the extra help they can get.

Importance of family caregivers

It is imperative that my cousin’s family provides extra hands-on care to deter these preventable complications. Family caregivers are an increasingly vital part of every patient’s medical support.

In order to check on her, I drove the four hours to visit her in the hospital. I found my cousin in a fixed, supine position. As a Registered Nurse for over 25 years and a licensed Nurse Practitioner since 2014, I knew this wasn’t good. The moment I saw her lying in this position I could tell that she had not been turned in at least several hours. It is essential that bedridden patients get turned every two hours to prevent infections.

A less seasoned nurse commented, “We don’t turn patients, we just put a pillow under them.” My immediate thought was this hospital must have a high rate of hospital-acquired infections.

Supporting inpatient care

I asked for my cousin’s RN to help me turn the patient. When the RN arrived, she could not believe I was willing to assist in this way. After repositioning my cousin (as the RN was leaving), I added pillows and folded towels to elevate her swollen hands (to encourage circulation), provide padding between the knees (to prevent skin break down), and position her head/neck for normal alignment (for comfort and circulation). This is one example of how family caregivers can help their loved ones avoid complications. The sooner patients move — from being turned from side to side, to getting up out of bed — the sooner they will go home.

Telehealth support for family caregivers

I understand most family caregivers are not trained professionals. Their worry and concerns may distract them from understanding the sometimes overwhelming information given to them as their loved one’s advocate. This information overload continues when the patient is discharged and returns home.

Virtual Healing addresses all these issues and more: what to do, what to look for, what to think about to enhance a rapid recovery.

Clear, compassionate support

Virtual Healing is staffed with compassionate medical professionals who take the time to explain things to family caregivers in plain language. If a caregiver is unsure about written instructions, we  bring clarity to the confusion. If a situation develops that causes concern, we help a caregiver decide whether a call or visit to the emergency room is indicated, or if the situation can be resolved over the phone.

Virtual Healing does not take the place of a doctor’s care, but it is an important addition to support that care. Helping family members to be actively involved in a loved one’s recovery will improve patient outcomes, increase satisfaction, and avoid complications.

We are HIPAA compliant and careful to protect patient information.

To learn about the full range of services provided by Virtual Healing, Inc., please visit our website. We hope you’ll follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook to learn practical insights about home-based recovery. Call Virtual Healing, Inc., at 727-729-2099 or send an email for personalized attention.

 

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