Family Roles when a person becomes a patient
Being a patient has an impact on the person’s role within the family. This may affect compliance with medical treatment and / or the ability to support a family member that is hospitalized (eg. mother of a hospitalized child). In addition, beliefs about the role of men and women may affect the dynamics of the family and how they participate in the care of the patient.
If the patient is a ‘mother’; and cannot fulfill her essential ‘mother role’ in the family (such as caring for her children) she may avoid or delay treatment. If the patient is a child, and the mother needs to be with the child in the hospital; again the mother is not fulfilling the ‘mother role’ for the rest of the family. Alternatively, the mother may have to meet her role demands at home and may not be available to support the child in the hospital. The family may need assistance with problem solving for the ‘mother role’ to be supported in the family by others within the extended family system.
If the patient is the ‘father’; this impacts on his ability to meet his role obligations. The father (patient) may be the only financial support for the family including his own mother and father; and he also has role obligations for protection of the family. Some families may depend on the “father” to transport them anywhere they want to go, and when he is the one being the patient, it is difficult for the females to move around (even visiting the hospital). The family may need assistance with problem solving for the ‘father role’ to be supported in the family.