Family-Centered Care And Its Importance In Treating Patients

Family-Centered Care

Family-centered care (FCC) is a holistic approach to healthcare that involves the entire family in the care and in the decision-making process. The family unit is critical to the well-being of the patient, and others who are close to the patient are considered part of the family unit, even if they are not related. This approach takes into consideration the social, emotional and physical needs of the patient and their family.

It is important that the needs of all members of the family are considered, and this approach fosters collaboration and open communication between patients, their families and healthcare providers. There are several notable models of FCC that all focus on providing the very best care for patients and their families.

Calgary Family Assessment model

One model of FCC is the Calgary Family Assessment Model (CFAM), which focuses on understanding the development, structure and functioning aspects of a family unit to provide the family with a personalized care plan to meet their unique needs. CFAM is widely recognized as a framework for those in the nursing and healthcare professions to help families and patients find ways of promoting health and well-being. This assessment model involves three major aspects: assessment, diagnosis and intervention.

The assessment phase involves gathering as much personal and medical data as possible to understand the structure, function and development of the family unit. The assessment includes studying the internal and external makeup of the family unit, communication patterns, power dynamics and coping strategies. 

Once the assessment is done, the healthcare team will analyze the data and come up with a diagnosis of the strengths, weaknesses and problem areas of the family. This allows the medical professionals to understand the health and function of the family and make recommendations on any resources, tools and interventions that may be needed. 

Healthcare professionals work with the family to create interventions that deal with the issues identified in the diagnosis phase. Interventions are specific to the family and tailored to meet their needs. This helps families achieve their goals of helping the patient reach good health and well-being. The interventions can be created in collaboration with the patient’s family so they feel a sense of ownership in the process, which makes them more likely to follow the plans. 

McGill model of family-centered care

This model of FCC emphasizes the collaboration between the healthcare providers and the patient’s family. This approach recognizes the importance of the family in helping the patient reach optimal health and well-being. The steps in promoting effective implementation of this model consist of acknowledgement and respect, collaboration and partnership, support and empowerment, and open communication. 

  • Acknowledgment and respect

This recognizes the importance of families and what they bring to the healthcare process. Healthcare professionals show respect for the family’s values, beliefs and cultural backgrounds and keep them top of mind when creating a treatment plan. 

  • Collaboration and partnership

This encourages active participation in the healthcare process and shared decision-making between the family, the patient and healthcare providers.

  • Support and empowerment 

This is about providing families with the necessary support, education and resources they need to enable them to participate in the care of their loved one. This empowers all members of the family and the patient to make informed decisions based on their abilities and dynamics. 

  • Open communication

This encourages open and honest communication between healthcare professionals, families and patients. This creates an environment where all parties can express concerns, share resources, and contribute to the treatment plan. 

The family systems nursing model

The family systems nursing model (FSNM) recognizes everyone in the family and their importance when it comes to the health and well-being of the patient. This approach focuses on the health of all family members and recognizes that one individual with a health issue can have a direct impact on the entire family unit. This model assesses the family as a whole and strives to understand the dynamics, roles and relationships within the family so the treatment plan can fit in with their specific needs. The goal is to promote health for the patient and the family using four steps: family assessment, formulating family nursing diagnoses, planning and implementing interventions, and evaluation. 

  • Family assessment

The family assessment involves understanding the structure, dynamics, relationships and patterns in a family. This includes the members’ roles in the family and any coping strategies. This step also involves assessing the strengths of the family and pinpointing any areas for intervention.

  • Formulating family nursing diagnoses

Once the assessment is completed, the healthcare professionals can identify nursing diagnoses that take into account the health and well-being of the family in its entirety rather than just the patient. 

  • Planning and implementation

Healthcare providers will develop and implement a treatment plan that considers the whole family as one unit and ensures the plan is tailored to the specific needs of everyone in the family unit. 

  • Evaluation

This step includes assessing the effectiveness of the interventions and any impact they may have on the family. This helps determine how successful the interventions are and whether they need to be adjusted or removed to support the health and well-being of the patient and their family. 

The necessity of nurse practitioners in family-centered care

Family-centered care is one of the specializations that nurses can consider when applying for one of the NP Certificate Programs at an accredited online school such as Wilkes University. Online courses create a flexible curriculum for working professionals who want to take their education further and take advantage of the opportunities advanced degrees can bring. These certificate programs allow them to earn expertise in a new area of specialty.

When a nurse practitioner is interested in pursuing a specialization in family-centered care, they can pursue specialized training programs or courses in that area that provide in-depth knowledge and practical skills related to working with families in healthcare settings. The process includes gaining hands-on experience in healthcare settings that prioritize family-centered care. This allows nurses to develop a deeper understanding of the dynamics and complexities of family interactions within the healthcare context.

Nurses who specialize in family-centered care are engaged in lifelong learning and understand the necessity of staying up-to-date with the latest research, best practice and advancements in the field through ongoing professional development and educational opportunities.

By attending workshops, seminars and symposiums in their area of specialty, nurse practitioners can learn how to communicate and collaborate with experienced healthcare professionals, mentors and interdisciplinary teams. This helps individuals learn from the expertise and insights of others and gain practical knowledge in effectively implementing family-centered care principles.

It is important for nurse practitioners to engage in reflective practice to assess their own interactions with families, identify areas for improvement, and develop strategies for enhancing communication, collaboration and support for families in the healthcare setting.

In this way, nurses can enhance their expertise in family-centered care and contribute to the provision of holistic, patient-centered healthcare services that consider the needs and well-being of both patients and their families.

Nursing skills that help in dealing with family dynamics

Nurse practitioners are not only well-educated and knowledgeable, but they also possess many enviable skills that make them effective at providing the best in family-centered care. These skills include communication skills, interpersonal skills, critical thinking, cultural competence and advocacy skills. 

Communication skills

Communication skills are vital in communicating with patients, the patient’s family and other healthcare providers on the medical team. These skills are crucial in effectively relaying information to others. Such skills include active listening, empathetic communication, and the capacity to convey complex medical information in a clear and understandable manner.

Interpersonal skills

Interpersonal skills include being able to build a trusting and respectful relationship with families. As well as demonstrating empathy, they enable nurses to foster supportive and collaborative relationships to facilitate shared decision-making and family involvement in care. Nursing practitioners are in a unique position to act as healthcare professionals as well as family support workers, so their interpersonal skills need to be excellent.

Critical thinking

Critical thinking is a crucial skill for a nurse practitioner because it helps with analyzing complex family dynamics and health-related issues. Medical professionals need to be able to sift through large amounts of data and create treatment plans that will have a direct impact on the family and the patient. Nurse practitioners with strong critical thinking skills are adept at developing comprehensive care plans that address the unique needs of both the patient and the family.

Cultural competence

Cultural competence includes understanding and respecting a diverse range of cultural beliefs, values and practices. A nurse practitioner who specializes in family-centered care needs to be able to integrate cultural considerations into the care plan to ensure the care provided is culturally sensitive and appropriate. Some families may only believe in alternative forms of healthcare, so nurse practitioners should be able to integrate these ideas into the treatment plan for the patient. 

Advocacy skills

Nurse practitioners serve as advocates for patients and their families and ensure their voices are heard, and their needs are addressed within the healthcare system. Advocacy also includes promoting policies that support family-centered care initiatives and finding the right decision-makers to create needed resources or start important initiatives. 

There are several ways in which nurse practitioners can advocate for their patients and their families. These include educating patients about their health conditions, treatment options and self-care strategies. This education helps empower patients and guides them into making informed decisions and actively participating in their care. Advocacy can also come in the form of helping patients navigate the healthcare system, facilitating access to necessary resources, and advocating for equitable and timely access to healthcare services.

Another important part of patient advocacy is upholding and protecting patients’ rights to quality healthcare, informed consent, privacy and confidentiality, ensuring that patients are treated with dignity and respect. This includes working closely with healthcare teams to ensure comprehensive and coordinated care that addresses the holistic needs of the patient. 

Nurse practitioners are in respected positions within the healthcare field and can use their knowledge to participate in healthcare policy discussions, advocating for policies that promote patient-centered care, and addressing healthcare disparities to improve access and quality of care for all patients. By actively engaging in these advocacy efforts, nurse practitioners can promote the well-being and interests of their patients, ensuring they receive comprehensive and compassionate care that meets their unique needs and preferences.


When a nurse practitioner specializes in family-centered care, they are committing to another level of nursing that includes patient assessments, family collaboration and the implementation of interventions. These medical professionals are highly regarded by their peers and other medical professionals as they fill a need for autonomous medical care that is lacking in the United States.

Nurse practitioners who specialize in family-centered care can open practices in areas where medical services are scarce and work towards bringing excellent, holistic care to underserved patients and their families.