Consultation Skills

Families and Relatives

Why families and relatives are as important as patients

Individual patients do not live in a bubble.  Their lives are defined not only by their own existence but that of people around them -- families, relatives and friends.   And that’s why it’s important that when families or relatives come to the consultation accompanying the patient -- not to ignore them.   The patient has usually brought them along for support and because that person usually matters in their life.  So, include them in the consultation -- their thoughts, feelings and so on.  

On a different thread, understanding family dynamics is incredibly important because it has a massive impact on the way a medical disease affects the patient’s lives.   Some families are very good and support.  Others are incredibly dysfunctional, making the patient’s experience of their medical illness a lot worse.    Sometimes, helping a patient achieve a more positive family dynamic is all that is needed to lessen their pain (rather than going up the WHO analgesic ladder!).   

Look at this video on pain to demonstrate the point…

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