When my Father was sick and dying of a serious illness twenty years ago, my family spent long hours waiting in hospitals and clinics, waiting for the doctors, test results or some procedure to be performed. We floundered our way through the maze of doctors, trying to understand the doctor’s lingo and decide on a treatment without much knowledge or background in medical science. In those days there was no Wikipedia to consult on any matter. In these days of the internet, caregivers can find a lot of help on the internet, to understand the patient’s diagnosis.
The relatives of the patients spend long hours in the hospital with not much of a support system for themselves. The care givers of all the patients in a cardiac unit experience similar issues and would benefit a lot from reaching out to each other. Have you ever seen people socializing or talking with other caregivers in the lounge? Usually, the waiting areas are full of people reading or on their cell phones connecting with someone else. Also, although everyone is not sociable in person, they would love to get some information they need from other caregivers over the internet.
Hospitals have started providing private niche networks for their patients’ caregivers to connect and discuss issues, are providing their patients’ and their caregivers a great support network. Questions answered in these forums are related to the day to day care of the patients, invaluable relevant information that cannot be found elsewhere.
One such example is The Massachusetts General Hospital. They found that more than the problems of the patients, it was the problems of the family members who were care-givers that needed to be addressed. It created ‘carepages’ allowing care-givers of patients to reach out to other care-givers in similar situations, interact with each other and form a strong support community.