Kruvand then stated that one of the main “fears” linked with “inviting families in” is “losing control and exposing [hospital] problems.” However, she said that families already notice the underlying problems that hospitals may try to keep hidden. For example, families will notice when a hospital is understaffed, “because we can see it on the [frazzled] faces.”
Knowing this, there is no reason to hold back and not involve families in infection prevention strategies across the hospital. Kruvand urges hospital personnel to engage in any and all Family Partner Programs. In addition, she stated that healthcare providers can personalize safety promotion by inviting family members to share their stories.
“You can only teach people if you engage their minds and hearts,” said Kruvand. “Hearts go a lot further; they get passion and engagement at a higher level. People that can see suffering on a family (not that I wish any family has to suffer), will [comply with safety precautions].” Involving families in infection prevention also means including them on safety councils, and having them participate in mock emergency preparedness events.
Kruvand described one mock event at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia, PA, conducted to help prepare for an Ebola crisis. This hospital was “working on Ebola preparedness [strategies] for all pediatric hospitals,” and had family partners play the roles of being a family at the hospital during an Ebola crisis. With the help of these families, the hospital was able to determine the equipment that would be needed to manage an Ebola crisis, from iPads to televisitation. “You have to figure out alternative ways to engage, but don’t just shut the doors and keep [families] out,” said Kruvand.
At Children’s Hospital in St. Louis, family partners also weigh in on material developed for family education, and are even involved in safety rounding. “The more you engage patients and families the better off these materials will be designed, and the more sustainable your programs will be,” she commented.
Overall, this process is about “finding ‘ready’ patients and families who will be an asset to your hospital’s infection prevention team. These individuals will be the key to advancing patient and family education on infection prevention strategies. Not only do these individuals bring in a fresh perspective to your team, they inspire other families to follow suit.
“Please think of your family advisors as [groups that can do] more than [advise] where flowers go and what paint color should go on the walls. They have amazing insight that you are losing out on if you don’t converse with them,” she concluded.
SHEA Spring 2017 Conference
The Role of Visitors and Families in HAI Prevention Activities
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