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Five Principles of Family Centered Care in Pediatric Nursing

Image of a three nurses smiling

Health practitioners promote service satisfaction and self-assurance by maintaining a familial bond during pediatric treatment with a value system called family centered care. Providers and organizations adopting this philosophy promote emotional, physical, and psychological health among children during treatment. Family centered care has evolved from literary works penned by practicing nurses over the last seven decades. Nurses practice the method as a means to build a rapport that facilitates fulfillment of the needs of all stakeholders.

This once prohibited practice now receives increased acceptance, bolstered by highly compelling empirical evidence. Using this approach, nursing professionals create an environment that recognizes parents as critical information sources and part of the caregiving team. While many pediatric practitioners have accepted family centered care as an effective value system, many more have yet to incorporate it into their repertoire.

Pediatric practitioners who adopt family centered care techniques recognize how important it is to include family members in the evaluation, delivery, and planning of treatment and incorporate that ideology into assessments, facility design, policies, programs, and routine interactions. [1]These care providers understand the important role that family members play in children’s wellness.

Pediatric care providers who follow family centered service principles treat each child as an individual and support family values and strengths to promote positive patient outcomes. These professionals also engage families in a way that supports emotional development and reassures family members that they are an important component in their child’s treatment.

The fact and views presented by the patient and their family members comprise important influences in clinical decision-making. Confident and informed family members reinforce children’s strength and courage. Bearing this in mind, the following five innovative practices can help pediatric care providers improve patient outcomes.

1. Open Communication with Family Members

Open communication in pediatric and neonatal wards lead to improved patient and familial satisfaction. These outcomes improve patient safety and stakeholder candidness. When clinical errors occur, a relationship built with open communication plays a critical role in how stakeholders perceive the event.

Family centered pediatric practitioners share information and encourage patient participation during treatment while maintaining privacy rights, especially among disabled children, and respect children’s ability to make appropriate decisions. When conducting research, family centered pediatricians defer to patient and family member views on project participation and information sharing. Communication also improves performance among medical personnel.

2. Recognizing Familial Importance

Patient and family centered care started to emerge in the 1950’s. The practice holds special relevance for families raising children with special needs, as well as low-income, minority, and uninsured families.

The doctrine reduces incurred costs and improves the experience realized by patients and family members. By keeping family members present during treatment, pediatricians decrease stakeholder apprehension and create a supportive setting for family members, while encouraging patient interaction and promoting a healing environment.

3. Family and Organizational Collaboration

At family centered practices, family members serve as the patient’s advisors, committee, and task force for promoting the best possible treatment outcome. [2] A supportive environment encourages family members to participate in value added groups, such as peer networks, quality improvement initiatives, and safety committees. Family centered value adoption starts at the executive level with appropriate guidance and resource allocation and then proliferates throughout the organization.

As it pertains to family centered care, collaboration encompasses complementary patient engagement, or if necessary, a guiding voice that encourages patient and family participation in the treatment process. New mothers commonly seek this kind of professional interaction.

Collaboration streamlines treatment and produces optimal health experiences. By combining their assets, beliefs, and capabilities, family members and care providers make enhanced decisions that best serve the needs of the patient.

4. Enabling Family Members to Support Treatment

Professional perceptions and attitudes can delineate the effectiveness of family centered care. To deploy the philosophy successfully, pediatric nurses must relinquish some, but not all, control to family members. To facilitate this, nurses must guide family members in caring, protecting, and making decisions for pediatric patients.

Most nurses are aware of the family centered practice concept. Entry-level nursing staff members may have difficulty relinquishing partial control to family members. However, experienced nurses typically feel more at ease with the idea, which empowers parents and guardians by enhancing their ability to play an active role in their child’s treatment.

5. Encouraging Cultural Literacy

The best methods to deliver care can change with cultural identity. Respect and honor for cultural differences represents a primary tenant in promoting family centered pediatric care. [6] Staff members who belong to various cultures can help their peers understand intercultural needs.

Each family unit also shares distinct cultural beliefs. Children learn their characteristics, heritage, and spirituality from their family members. Pediatric practitioners must identify and learn to relate to other cultures to understand the factors that contribute to patient health.

High-quality family centered care improves wellness among pediatric patients. When family members provide strong support during treatment, children feel calmer and more relaxed and require less medication to recover from painful injuries.

Family centered treatment promotes winning outcomes for patients, family members and care providers. For that reason, pediatricians should promote a family centered agenda in all aspects of their practices.

Learn More

Family nurse practitioners play a major role in today’s health care field. The responsibilities of FNPs have evolved alongside that of physicians, which means additional opportunities, autonomy, and authority. At Regis, our online Master of Science in Nursing FNP degree can help you develop the specialized skill set you need to practice at the advanced level.

Recommended Reading:

Pediatric NP Job Roles and Responsibilities
Career Outlook: Family Nurse Practitioner


[1] American Academy of Pediatrics
[2] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health – Family Centered Pediatric Nursing Care
[3] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health