Joan’s Family Bill of Rights

Mary-Koloroutis-150x150I came across this wonderful piece entitled Joan’s Family Bill of Rights, by Barbara Lewis, and knew immediately that I wanted to share it with you.

Barbara spent two weeks in the ICU with her younger sister Joan, who then died from an unknown infection. During her time with her sister, Barbara, a successful marketing professional, kept a journal about her family’s experience. After her sister’s death, she came across her own notes and debated with herself about whether she should write to the manager of the ICU. Then she thought, “If I were that person, I’d want to know what someone observed on my unit.” By way of sharing her experience in a positive (though quite instructive) way, she wrote Joan’s Family Bill of Rights in memory of her sister.

The manager of the ICU later told Barbara that she cried when she read the document and passed it along to leaders in her hospital who in turn sent it to people at the health care system level. They called Barbara to come and talk with them. She has since made numerous presentations within their hospital and is continuing to present information in hospitals elsewhere on the topic: What the Families of Patients Need.

We hear often from caregivers that including the family in care and really understanding what is important to the family can be confounding. I think Joan’s Family Bill of Rights provides some poignant insights about what it is like to be the family member by a loved one’s side during a painful illness. Barbara tells us what we can do to enhance their experience and help families cope and partner in the care of their loved ones. She also tells us what we may inadvertently do when we are not “awake” to their presence and needs, which will result in their feeling dropped rather than held in our care. She calls for us to remember that the family’s “devastating pain is internal, and there is no cure. Your kind words can save a breaking heart.”

Please read Joan’s Family Bill of Rights, share it with your colleagues, and use it for reflection and conversation about ways you can be attuned and present to the families in your care.

A Therapeutic Sighting: Our Mission Statement to Our Patients

ITHCDS Front_0n a recent Re-Igniting the Spirit of Caring workshop at Texas Health Center for Diagnostics and Surgery, the following mission was written by a group of staff from surgical services (anesthesia tech, surgical tech, central sterile, OR RN). We find it very inspiring.

Our Mission Statement to Our Patients

We vow, as your caregivers, to always treat you with respect and dignity. To care for you as if you were our own family. To remember you have a face, a spirit, and a heart. While you are under our care, we promise to always provide you with the best. As your guardians during this journey we understand your worries and fears, your vulnerabilities and needs. Therefore we will strive to always provide you with a tender touch and the utmost comfort. During this journey our focus will be only you as we vow to always see your hopes, your needs, your cares, and your fears as our own. We vow to wear a smile on our faces as well as on our hearts.

From your family here in the OR