Available nursing literature demonstrates the need for an individual who is not part of the resuscitation team to be present to provide support to family members during resuscitation efforts (Cottle & James, 2008). This individual is known by many common names, such as family support person, family facilitator, and chaperone, among others. This essay discusses the importance of the family facilitator in resuscitation efforts.
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First, it is important to have a family facilitator assigned to family members during resuscitation to provide supportive care to family members witnessing the resuscitation of a close relative (Cottle & James, 2008). Such supportive care may include spiritual nourishment, emotional and social support, as well as confidence-building. It is important to note that supportive care to the family members should be granted by the family facilitator before the members are allowed into the resuscitation room and extended throughout the resuscitation period into post-resuscitation (Fell 2009).
Second, it is important to have a family facilitator assigned to family members to adequately prepare them before entering the resuscitation unit through providing information on the events that they are likely to witness, “…and an explanation about invasive interventions and the physical effects that these can have on their relative” (Cottle & James, 2008, p. 44). According to these authors, not only is it important that clear ground rules are set to guarantee that the presence of family members does not interfere with the resuscitation efforts but it is also important that family members have prior information about the person being resuscitated. Such information reduces stress and helplessness that may face family members when left in the dark (Agard, 2008).
Third, the family facilitator has a critical role in assisting family members who may be overwhelmed by the events in the resuscitation room to ensure that resuscitation efforts are not interrupted (Fell, 2009). Some family members may begin to cry uncontrollably or even faint upon seeing their loved one, while others experience emotional outbursts. It is therefore important for the family facilitator to remain with the family members throughout the resuscitation process to escort them from the room and offer support to those who may be unable to cope (Cottle & James, 2008).
Fourth, it is important to have a family facilitator assigned to family members during resuscitation not only to explain procedures and medications (Fell, 2009) but also to communicate sensitive decisions that may be made, such as the decision to terminate a resuscitation attempt (Cottle & James, 2008). Although such decisions need to be addressed sensitively, preferably by involving the family members and the resuscitation team, it is well known that some family members may experience difficulties coming to terms with some decisions which may involve terminating the resuscitation efforts. Consequently, it is the family facilitator who communicates the decision to terminate the resuscitation effort as well as guides what is likely to follow (Cottle & James, 2008).
Lastly, according to Agard (2008), it is important to have a family facilitator in a resuscitation effort “…to identify family members with appropriate coping mechanisms who may desire to be present during resuscitation” (p. 158). This is a critical role in ensuring that the resuscitation process goes on uninterrupted as only those with adequate coping mechanisms may be allowed to witness the exercise. As clearly stated in the literature, the family facilitator should have the capacity to evaluate family members and exclude those who may exhibit unstable coping mechanisms and emotional instability, or those exhibiting combative behavior, altered mental status, and drug or alcohol dependency (Agard, 2008; Fell, 2009).
Agard, M. (2008). Creating advocates for family presence during resuscitation. MEDSURG Nursing, 17(3), 155-160.
Cottle, E.M., & James, J.E. (2008). Role of family support person during resuscitation. Nursing Standard, 23(9), 43-47.
Fell, O.P. (2009). Family presence during resuscitation efforts. Nursing Forum, 44(2), 144-150.