In the initial stages of your hospitalization, how can you and your family take some control of the situation? Here are some suggestions for how family members can assume responsibility for supporting you (and each other) and for seeing that you get the best care.
1. Form your own family team, with each member responsible for information and input about a certain aspect of your care. For instance, one member could be with you each morning to talk with the doctors on their rounds. Another member could talk with rehabilitation centers about the second stage of your recovery, to get the information necessary for making the best decision.
2. Ask questions until you really understand procedures, medications, and any side effects of treatments and medications. This is how you’ll become an informed consumer and a partner in the decision-making for your care.
3. Ask family members to accompany you to therapies to observe, assist, and give you feedback. They can reinforce your progress and will also be better prepared to help you with exercises when you return home.
4. Advocate for your own care. If your voice is not heard, ask family members to speak up for you.
5. Ask family members to listen to you and understand your observations and needs. And listen to your family. This will keep you attuned to one another’s emotional states so that you can support each other when needed.
6. If you have questions or concerns that are not being answered or addressed to your satisfaction, request a meeting with the physician. In a rehabilitation hospital or in an acute care setting that uses a team approach to patient care, you can request a Case Conference. This is a meeting that pulls together all the medical personnel involved in your care. You and your family will be included in the conference so that you can hear the different strategies being integrated to form the core of your care. Carefully consider every aspect of your care or prognosis so that you can ask just the right questions.