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Needing, feeding and saving lives

Family involvement pays big dividends. For starters, families can provide essential details about the patient’s medical history, symptoms, prescription and over-the-counter drugs, healthcare preferences and concerns. They know their loved ones better than anyone else in the hospital, and that counts for a lot in making sure that patients are getting the best possible care.

Close family or even friends can help with many bedside duties such as feeding, light bathing, fetching fresh water and finding the television remote—relieving overworked nurses of routine tasks and freeing them to concentrate on more important things such as dispensing medication, conferring with doctors or tending to wound care.

Families engaged in care and discharge planning are also better equipped to help when the patient leaves the hospital, whether to go to a nursing or rehabilitation facility or to go home. And that can help reduce the chance of readmission—something no one, least of all the patient, wants to see happen.

“Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m sixty-four?” sang the Beatles a long time ago. If you were 15 when the song came out in 1967, then you’re 64 today.

Maybe the Beatles were right to ask about needing and feeding. Family or friends can make a meaningful difference in patient care. They can even help save their loved ones’ lives. Besides, we all need a little help from our friends.


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