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When a Loved One Gets Sick -- What Types Of Care I Hope They Receive?

By Expert HERWriter
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At some point in our lives, someone we care about is going to become sick. As much as we probably don’t want to think about this, and I don’t blame you one bit because I don’t like thinking about this either, odds are good that several close friends and family members will end up battling some type of serious health issue. It’s just part of getting older, for them and for us.

I have dealt with this myself on more than one occasion. Like when my father had a heart attack and I ended up having to advocate for him several times in the hospital because I knew in my gut that some of the tests they were suggesting were going to hurt him more than help him. A physician later confirmed that this was correct. We both came away from the experience wishing that in some ways his care had been better.

I was thinking about my Dad the other day and what happened with him, and it got me to thinking. If we could come up with a “Wish List of Care” for our loved ones when they are facing an illness, what would be on it?

First on the list for me would be physicians and nurses who are both attentive and accurate in the way they care for their patients. In other words, everything that my friend or relative needs to get better happens in the hospital or clinical setting…the right tests, the right medicines, and the right treatments.

I’d also like my loved ones to go to places for their treatments that are close to their home and extremely welcoming. Using cancer as an example, wouldn’t it be great if everyone who was battling cancer wouldn’t have to travel very far for their chemotherapy? And if the treatment center was warm and inviting with nice furnishings and things for the patients to do while getting their treatments, wouldn’t that be great too? I’m thinking televisions, books, video games, puzzles—anything and everything that a patient could use to help pass the time and keep his or her mind off of things.

I’d love it if the treatment facility would provide transportation for patients who couldn’t drive on their own. And while we’re at it, let’s provide each patient with their own advocate who can handle things like insurance forms and other paperwork so that all our loved ones need to do is focus on getting better.

It would also be wonderful if our loved ones would be looked at as whole people who are more than “just their disease.” So rather than the staff thinking “Bob with the liver tumor is in room 11 today,” they would think “Bob, the father of four who works as a police officer, volunteers at his kids’ school and coaches his son’s Little League team, is in room 11 today. Let’s go ask him about his kids.”

I spent some time researching this topic online, and I was happy to find that some medical facilities are doing some of these exact things everyday with their patients. For example, check out this link to Cancer Treatment Centers of America and how they treat their clients:


And here’s a link to a facility in California that has “treatment teams” for their patients. What a great term that is!


There are other things I’d like to see too but for now, I’m interested to know what you’d like for your loved ones who are sick. Please drop me a line to let me know—I look forward to hearing from you.

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EmpowHER Guest

Well as long as we're "wishing" why not include a cure for cancer and a million dollars for everyone? This was one of the most vapid things I've read all week.

June 25, 2009 - 1:46pm

I'd wish for nursing staffing levels to be at a point where they could care for patients like they feel they should.

This is just a small example, but recently my mother had her gallbladder out, and had to be in the hospital for a couple extra days. The first night after surgery I stayed with her in the hospital room. She had constant IV drip fluids, which meant she needed to regularly get up and use the restroom.

Each time she needed to get up, she had to page a nurse. The nurse would need to take off my mom's inflating boots (they help prevent blood clots), help my mom out of the bed, steady her as she walked to the restroom and moved her IV stand, and then help her back into bed and refasten the inflation boots. The whole process took possibly 10 minutes but my mom needed to relieve herself probably every hour and a half.

Long story short, they were not staffed well that night, and my mother's bathrooming needs were not high on the list of what needed to be attended to. After waiting for half an hour one time and watching my mother uncomfortably try to hold it, I had to take matters into my own hands and learn how to undo and redo the inflation boots so I could help her to the bathroom. I did this for her all night long. Had she been in the hospital for herself, I think she'd have been allowed to lie in bed and have an accident simply because they were short of staff.

What was really sad was how grateful the nurse was TO ME. Because I could be there to help my mom, she had one less patient to deal with.

So I want nurses to be able to be staffed at a level that allows them to be the responsive, smart, caregiving people they are paid to be. Our nurses should not be stressed people who are pushed to their limits who have to be grateful to a patient's family member for being able to take some duties off their charts.

And my wish for every patient is that they have a close friend or family member there to be their advocate, just like you were for your father, Michelle. When we are the patient, it's often hard to think clearly, and we're vulnerable, and we don't feel well enough to ask all the questions that should be asked or push for all the answers that we need. If there's a person in the room who's there just for us and us alone, all kinds of good things happen.

May 14, 2009 - 9:40am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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