gypsyPatients and families are looking to you for information, guidance, reassurance and simple compassion. No doubt, you strive to meet all these needs as you juggle care for several patients, and administrative tasks as well. after discharge[1].

Today I am going to touch on three ideas to get the conversation started about how to engage patient care partners to be really active, trained participants in their loved ones’ care.

Let’s take the example of infections in the hospital.

Head – start with the facts

Get with the patient and the patient’s family members and share some facts prior to a hospital stay. Remind patients that hospitals and hotels are public places.  Infections are common, but preventable, especially with their help. Explain early signs of infection so that they are aware of what to look for.

Heart – connect with your patients

Have empathetic discussions with the patients and their care partners and open yourself up for help from them. Tell them it is OK to support your conscientious hand-washing practices by asking everyone who comes in the room to use gel or wash up. Tell them that they know the early signs of infection and that it is OK to call you anytime to alert you because it is better safe than sorry.

Hands – provide tools

You can start this process prior to a hospital stay by giving them advice to wash their bodies for several days before an admission/surgery with chlorhexidine soap. Once in the hospital, give them tools and jobs to do during the times when their loved one is resting and they could use something to control. Provide them with alcohol wipes and bleach wipes and tell them that throughout the stay it would be great for them to clean doorknobs, bedrails, the bed tray, the restroom bars. Your environmental services workers may do these things, but they can be done more. Tell them they can help their loved one by helping to wash the patient’s hands frequently, especially before meals. Remind them to continue these practices at home.

This is just one example of patient engagement that can assist hospital staff, give the patients some control, and prevent infections/readmissions. Want more ideas? See


[1] Curtiss, K; Foley, M; McWiliams, S. (2013) Safe & Sound Nursing Tools for Family Engagement and Patient-Centered Care. PartnerHealth. Lake Forest, IL.

Our Guest Blogger this week is Meredith Masel, PhD, MSW, UTMB Oliver Center for Patient Safety & Quality Healthcare.

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