To begin working with families, nurses must have a scientific knowledge base in family theory as well as an adequate knowledge base in family nursing. Although the past and present health care system tends to emphasize the individual, the family focus is not needed in order to be able to safely discharge the client back to a family or community setting.
This emerging group of family caregivers provides care to family members, this group frequently must take major adjustment to integrate the challenges & time commitment of caring for a family member with their own lives. (Hunt, 2003)
It is based on the assumption that all people regardless of age are a member of some type of family form. This family form may be a traditional nuclear family, single parent family, extended family.
The goal of family nursing is to help the family & its individual members reach and maintain maximum health throughout & beyond the illness experience. It is focused on the future across all practice settings & is emphasized in all health care environments.
Friedman (1992) suggest 3 focuses:-
- The individual with family as a context
- Relationship within family
- Processes within the family (transactional)
For the purpose, family nursing has 3 levels of approaches:-
- Family as Context:-
The 1° focus is on the health and development of an individual member existing within a specific environment. Although the nurse focuses on the nursing process on individuals health states, the nurse also assesses the extent to which the family provides the individual basic needs.
- Family as Client:-
When the family as a client is the approach, family process and relationship (parenting or family caregiving ) is the primary focus of nursing care. The focus of nursing assessment usually on pattern versus individual characteristics.
- Family as System:-
It is important to understand that although the theoretical and practical distinction can be made between the family as context and family as client, they are not necessarily mutually exclusive and both are often used simultaneously such as with perspective of family as a system.