Purpose and scope
The purpose of this best practice guideline (BPG) is to assist nurses in promoting family health through interventions and supports provided during expected as well as unexpected life events. Expected life events may include birth, school, adolescence, aging, and death, while unexpected life events may include trauma/accidents, chronic illness, developmental delay and disability.
Please see also the supplement to this guideline which provides updated recommendations.
Main guideline (including 2006 supplement):
Registered Nurses Association of Ontario (2002). Supporting and Strengthening Families Through Expected and Unexpected Life Events. Toronto, Canada: Registered Nurses Association of Ontario.
Do you want to learn about and implement the most- up-to-date evidence-based recommendations on this topic with your colleagues? Download and share the full best practice guideline (BPG), Supporting and Strengthening Families Through Expected and Unexpected Life Events.
See below for a snapshot of the recommendations from this BPG. We strongly suggest you review the full BPG before implementing the recommendations and good practice statements. The BPG also includes further resources to support implementation and evaluation.
Recommendation 1: Develop an empowering partnership with families by:
- Recognizing the family’s assessment of the situation as essential;
- Acknowledging and respecting the important role of family in health care situations;
- Determining the desired degree of family involvement; and
- Negotiating the roles of both nurse and family within the partnership.
Recommendation 2: Assess family in the context of the event(s) to identify whether assistance is required by the nurse to strengthen and support the family. While a family assessment should include information in the following areas, it should be tailored to address the uniqueness of each family through examining:
- Family perceptions of the event(s);
- Family structure;
- Environmental conditions; and
- Family strengths.
Recommendation 3: Identify resources and supports to assist families address the life event, whether this is expected or unexpected. Resources should be identified within the following three categories:
- Interfamilial; and
Recommendation 4: Educate nurses, families, policy-makers and the public to respond to expected or unexpected life events within the family.
Recommendation 5: Sustain a caring workplace environment conducive to family-centred practice by:
- Ensuring that nursing staff are oriented to the values and assessment of family-centred care;
- Ensuring that nurses have the knowledge, skill and judgement to implement family-centred care; and
- Providing ongoing opportunities for professional development for nursing staff.
Recommendation 6: Support the implementation of interdisciplinary family-centred practice in the workplace by:
- Ensuring appropriate resources (e.g., time, staffing);
- Developing and implementing family-centred practices and policies;
- Creating and maintaining environments that are conducive to family-centred care; and
- Developing programs that promote work life balance for employees.
Recommendation 7: Advocate for changes in public policy by:
- Lobbying for public discussion on family caregiving and the development of a public position on what level of caregiving is reasonable to expect from families;
- Lobbying for public education about the value and legitimacy of the role of family caregivers and how multiple family members respond to life events;
- Lobbying for a full range of adequate and effective programs for family members who are involved in caregiving and other life events within the family;
- Lobbying for consistency in funding, availability and delivery of respite care programs and other supports for families across Ontario;
- Lobbying for the funding of research projects that examine family as the providers and recipients of care, and the application of lessons learned from this research into public policy and program development; and
- Lobbying for mechanisms within organizations for families to dialogue with one another in an open forum
Recommendation 8: Nursing best practice guidelines can only be successfully implemented if there are adequate planning, resources, organizational and administrative support, as well as appropriate facilitation. Organizations may wish to develop a plan for implementation that includes:
- An assessment of organizational readiness and barriers to education;
- Involvement of all members (whether in a direct or indirect supportive function) who will contribute to the implementation process;
- Dedication of a qualified individual to provide the support needed for the education and implementation process;
- Ongoing opportunities for discussion and education to reinforce the importance of best practices; and
- Opportunities for reflection on personal and organizational experience in implementing guidelines.
Disclaimer: These guidelines are not binding for nurses, other health providers or the organizations that employ them. The use of these guidelines should be flexible and based on individual needs and local circumstances. They constitute neither a liability nor discharge from liability. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the contents at the time of publication, neither the authors nor the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) gives any guarantee as to the accuracy of the information contained in them or accepts any liability with respect to loss, damage, injury or expense arising from any such errors or omission in the contents of this work.
Current edition published: July 2002 with March 2006 supplement.
About the next edition:
The Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO) is developing a third edition of this best practice guideline (BPG), with the working title Person- and Family- Centred Care. The anticipated publication date is 2024.
This new edition will revise and combine the previous edition BPGs:
- Person and Family- Centred Care (2015),
- Establishing Therapeutic Relationships (2002 with 2006 revision), and
- Strengthening and Supporting Families through Expected and Unexpected Life events (2002 with 2006 revision).