Psychosocial care is directed at meeting the psychological and social needs of the patient and family. At the heart of psychosocial care are family assessment, the relationship of the patient within the family, and family support systems. Family assessment includes determining the structure of the family (multigenerational), main family decision maker, family roles related to the care of the patient, and the impact of illness and hospitalization on the patient’s role within the family.
Given the importance of connectedness within the family and interdependence of family members, an assessment of the patients’ relationships with other family members and family support systems for the patient is critical. Self-image, security and identity are derived from family connectedness; isolation from the family may contribute to anxiety and stress. Family members can assist the nurse in assessing and interpreting the patient’s psychosocial needs, level of anxiety and stress, as well as coping mechanisms. Nurses need to work through the family in provision of psychosocial care.
The “obligation to visit” is a religious and cultural requirement on family members. As visiting is encouraged in Islam, relatives and friends often travel long distances to visit patients admitted even for minor ailments or operations. It is considered a ‘shame’ if you do not visit your relatives when ill; close neighbors are often considered like a close relative. Support for the extended visitation is an important caring action, with the family ‘in charge’ of the visiting process.
Visitors often stay throughout visiting times. The patient cannot dismiss his or her visitors, as this is culturally unacceptable. However, dismissal of the visitors by the health care professionals could also be embarrassing to the patients. It is the best to work with the family if the need is there to restrict visitors to ensure a balance of psychological support through visiting, and the need for restorative rest.