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The role of family and community in humanising medicine: Support and integration

23 November 2023

The role of family and community in the context of healthcare is invaluable. It is the patient's loved ones and wider community that play a key role in humanising medicine. In this article, we will discuss how family and community can support patients and integrate with medical staff to create a more humane and effective healthcare system.

Family support for the patient

The family plays an extremely important role as a pillar of support for the patient during difficult times of illness. Its presence and involvement is a key part of the treatment process and can make a significant difference to the patient's health and wellbeing. Family support for the patient is much more than providing emotional support; it is also a practical action that can significantly improve the quality of care for the patient.

During the course of the illness, the family often acts as a carer, supporting the patient's daily life. They may be family members, friends or close neighbours who offer their assistance. Arranging home care, providing transport to medical appointments, and managing therapy and medication are just some of the actions the family can take to support the patient in the recovery process.

One of the key aspects of support that the family can provide is active communication with medical staff. The family can help the patient understand complex medical information, encourage them to ask relevant questions and maintain contact with doctors and nurses. Having the family present together at medical consultations can have many benefits, including ensuring that no relevant information is missed and that the treatment plan is clear and understandable.

Psychological support from the family is also of great importance. In difficult moments of illness, emotional support from loved ones can help the patient cope with stress, anxiety and depression. Warm words, a sense of security and proximity to the family can significantly boost the patient's morale and contribute to faster recovery.

The family is an integral part of the treatment process and should be considered a partner in the patient's care. Its role in providing physical, emotional and communication support is invaluable. The family's support of the patient creates strong family bonds and can contribute significantly to improving treatment outcomes and the patient's quality of life.

Community as support

The community in which the patient lives plays a key role in the treatment and support process. It is the local community organisations, support groups and neighbours who are the fundamental link of support for patients during difficult times of illness. Their presence and involvement has a huge impact on the patient's healing process and experience.

Local community organisations often provide valuable information on available resources, support programmes and funding opportunities for treatment. This enables patients to get the healthcare they need and learn about available treatment pathways

Support groups are another important part of the community that offer emotional support to patients and their families. Members of these groups share their experiences, advice and coping strategies. This is a valuable source of support that helps patients feel less alone in their situation.

Neighbours also play an important role in the healing process. They often offer practical assistance, such as grocery shopping, childcare or household help. This form of support can make a significant contribution to easing the burden on patients and their families.

Integrating the community with medical staff is key to improving the quality of healthcare. Local initiatives, such as educational campaigns on healthy lifestyles, preventive health care or community health programmes, have the potential to reduce the incidence of disease and improve the overall health of the population. These activities support healthy lifestyles and promote beneficial health habits, which in turn can contribute to reducing the incidence of many diseases.

Collaboration between the community and medical staff creates a synergistic approach to healthcare, where the patient is supported at multiple levels. This partnership is key to creating a more holistic and effective healthcare system where the patient is supported at both the medical and community levels.

Support groups

Support groups are an endless source of emotional support and information for patients and their families. These community structures, full of empathy and understanding, offer patients a place to share their experiences, gain valuable advice and build lasting bonds with people going through similar health challenges. It is in these groups that peers can be found, people who understand what it means to live with a chronic illness or to support loved ones through difficult times. Shared solidarity and mutual understanding create an atmosphere that is not only conducive to easing emotional burdens, but also contributes to improving patient outcomes and quality of life.

Support groups often bring together people with a variety of experiences and life baggage who all have one thing in common - battling or caring for someone affected by the disease. In such an environment, patients can not only share their fears, hopes and successes, but also exchange valuable information on available sources of help, effective coping strategies and practical tips for everyday life. It is a place where questions are not left unanswered and advice is based on real-life experiences, which is an invaluable resource in the treatment process.

In addition to emotional support and practical guidance, support groups allow patients to develop their communication skills and build their confidence in dealing with medical staff. By sharing their experiences in the group, patients often become more active in the treatment process, ask more pertinent questions and have a better understanding of their health needs. This in turn translates into a more satisfying and effective relationship between the patient and the medical staff. Support groups not only help patients, but also their families. Relatives have the opportunity to understand other families' perspectives and learn how to better support their relatives through difficult times. It is also a place for them to find answers to questions about patient care and to gain support in dealing with their own emotions