AACN News—May 2009—Practice

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Vol. 26, No. 5, MAY 2009

Practice Resource Network

Q I was shocked to hear about two recent accounts from nurses who had family members in critical care. For one family, visitation hours were strictly upheld, and communication with the nursing staff took place mainly by phone. In the other case the family was told they could get an update, but visitation was not allowed during morning hours. The visiting time was two hours in the afternoon and two hours in the evening. The same week I heard these stories our hospital practice counsel decided to revisit our “open door” policy for visitors. I think the AACN community has a lot of work to do to improve visitation policies in our hospitals.

A Thank you for sharing your stories with us. AACN is committed to families being an integral part of patient care. Unfortunately many in the AACN community could share similar incidents. Evidence indicates that family presence is beneficial to patients and families, and AACN has many resources available for nurses striving to keep patients and families at the center of care.

AACN Protocol for Practice: Creating Healing Environments, 2nd edition. This resource is focused on creating a healing environment for patients and families. The chapters in the resources are as follows:

• Chapter 1: Environmental Design and Strategies to Promote Healing – Family-Centered Care
• Chapter 2: Family Needs, Interventions and Presence
• Chapter 3: Family Visitation and Partnership
• Chapter 4: Family Pet Visiting and Animal-Assisted Therapy
• Chapter 5: Spiritual and Complementary Therapies to Promote Healing and Reduce Stress
• Chapter 6: Pain Management
• The AACN Synergy Model for Patient Care, the fourth domain in the Seven End-of-Life Care Domains and the references for Beacon Award recognition all include healing environments in the care of patients and families.

These resources are available on the AACN Web site:

The AACN Synergy Model for Patient Care
Seven End-of-Life Care Domains
Domain 4 – Emotional and Practical Support for Patients and Families

An article in the May 2007 issue of the American Journal of Critical Care, “Attitudes Toward and Beliefs about Family Presence: A Survey of Healthcare Providers, Patients’ Families and Patients,” discussed a survey of staff at a 300-bed academic facility. The study concluded that family presence is beneficial to patients, patients’ families and healthcare providers.

It is important that we all work together to create the best healing environment for our patients. Please continue your support of family visitation as a vital part of the healing environment.

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