Practical caregiving tips to advocate for your hospitalized patient

This article is part three of a three part series that will help you step into an advocacy role, feel more confident about your role as a caregiver, and communicate effectively with medical professionals.  These tips and actions are practical and provide real life advice to help you navigate through the countless tests, doctors, nurses, therapists, medicines and other medical professionals and new terminology.  Moving forward, accept that you have a steep learning curve and apply yourself persistently.

Part 3: Tips for Control and Confidence of one’s own emotions
You can make a huge difference in the healing of your family member and you must recognize this fact early in the hospitalization process.  It may be a time of great stress, confusion and frustration for you and the patient. By taking action in specific, concrete steps like those below you’ll find that you are assisting in the patient’s healing, and you will have more confidence and feel more in control of your own emotions during this time.

Remember the five ‘Rules of Medicine’ —Right patient, right drug, right amount, right time, and in the right manner.  Although accidents are infrequent in hospitals, the staff can get overworked and tired; they are only human. An extra set of eyes to double-check every administration of medicine keeps everyone well and healthy.

Feel confident to look at any chart, record, table, or billing records if you are the agent of choice in the patient’s recorded Medical Power of Attorney Form. Staying informed is important in your role as an advocate for the patient. It’s your right and it’s your patient’s health.

Adopt the motto “Cleanliness is the route to healthiness!” Hospital-acquired bacterial infections are a serious risk to your patient. Anything you can do to keep the bacteria minimized is exceptionally important.

Screen all visitors and guests for colds and illness. Prevent those that are ill from visiting your patient. Patients’ resistance and immune system are compromised after surgery. You must protect them from outside illnesses.

Watch for bedsores not just on the bums, but also on elbows, knees, ankles, hips and backbones. Have nurses treat them immediately to prevent infections.

Realize that some patients have very fragile skin and that sores are quick to develop. They might begin as small red irritated spots, and can grow quickly without the medical professionals noticing. They can rapidly become serious infections endangering the health of your patient and must be treated as soon as possible.

Keep track of medications being started and stopped, changes in dosages, and changes the patient experiences in mental or physical reactions. Drug interactions can occur even though the patient has been using the medicine for a long time.

Marie Gibson is an author and speaker who advises caregivers on how family members can become crucial advocates for their hospitalized family member, and who also leads employee training at health care institutions.  She is author of The Caregiver’s Journal and Peace of Mind for Caring Hearts and Helping Hands.
Using an organizational tracking tool like The Caregiver’s Journal will provide greater clarity in comforting your patient, communicating and collaborating for their health with the medical professionals and you will have more confidence and control of your own emotions.