Family dynamics

To reach their case management goals, it is important for Case Managers to understand the patients family dynamics. The patients family is usually their source of support, and when necessary, their caregiver, providing the majority of long term care for patients. 

The case manager needs to understand the patient’s role in the family. Were they the breadwinner? Were they the caregiver to another family member? How does their illness affect this role? No matter the patients role in the family, the illness or injury will disrupt the family norms. An extended or severe illness will require modifications of family responsibilities.

The patient and family’s ability to adjust to crisis is an important factor in helping the patient reach their goals. Factors to successful adapting include:

  • flexibility
  • problem solving ability
  • effective communication
  • seeking and accepting help

Factors that hinder successful adaption include:

  • overindulging the patient
  • fostering patient dependency
  • abandoning other family members
  • abandoning the patient
  • denial of patient’s condition
  • relying on a single person to provide all assistance to the patient
  • failure to seek assistance or ask for help

Understanding the family dynamics will assist the Case Manager to provide intervention and resources as needed. They can make a referral to family counseling or support groups. They can also encourage maintaining as much of their normal routine as possible.