Should relatives help care for the elderly in hospital?

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Should relatives help care for the elderly in hospital?

Dr Peter Carter, head of the Royal College of Nursing, has been forced to defend himself after suggesting relatives of the elderly should help care for them in hospital. "We would never suggest that relatives perform tasks that nurses are trained and paid to do, or that they should be compelled to carry out any task," he said. Dr Clare Gerada, of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said the NHS could not afford nurses to feed patients when families could do it. But Patients Association boss Katherine Murphy said: “I’m so angry. The way the elderly are often treated is a national disgrace. The Government should provide more nurses." What's your take?

Last seen: 8 years 6 months ago
Joined: 28/09/2011 - 9:07am

The sooner the goverment wake up and realise the carers have more actual on the ground expierience that they would quite happily share tis with the nurses the better xxxxxxxxxx

Last seen: 8 years 9 months ago
Joined: 14/10/2011 - 1:40am
Excellent idea Doctor

As a former visiting palliative nurse it was my responsibility to train families to provide end of life care at home. Sometimes very advanced care.
It is my experience that there are a lot of members inside a family unit that are capable and benefit from assisting in a loved ones end of life care. They want to feel like they're helping. Sometimes a hospital setting can be very intimidating and they feel they cannot participate. Everyone deals with the dying process differently and some can barely sit with a loved one but for those who can hospitals should willingly provide instruction and tools to provide basic comfort measures.
It is true that nurses on a non palliative ward often do not have the time it takes to patiently coax a dying person into receiving care. Care should be provided, as much as possible, on the dying persons terms.
If family members are holding vigil at their loved ones bedside then who better to comfort them?
Family members are completely competent to provide many basic comfort measures, mouth care, positioning (with training), feeding, encouraging fluids, washing the hands and face, brushing hair.
It can be a beautiful experience to help a loved one die and families should be given the resources and training to do this confidently.
Of course family members who are unable, for whatever reason, should never be forced, as the doctor said.

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