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Pediatric Health

Family-Centered Health

Help Keep the Care of Your Child's Health Family-Centered

December 01, 2009
At year's end, be sure to take the time to assess your family's progress toward achieving good health. The month of December offers a chance for all families to reflect on and take stock of their knowledge, strengths, roles and responsibilities so that as a new year begins, families have a renewed sense of understanding about how important their voices are in the care of their children's health.

One health care term all families should be familiar with is "family-centered care." Family-centered care means that medical professionals and families work together as equal partners to respond to a child's needs and to provide the best possible care. Family perceptions, questions and recommendations are valued by health care professionals and acted upon throughout the entire patient care process. As the expert about your child, you have valuable information to contribute to your child's plan of care and should be prepared to do so. Both medical professionals and family members are responsible for communicating with each other information about a child's medical condition and care that is meaningful and understood.

Remember, families CAN:


Ask all kinds of questions to ensure you get the information you need about your child's illness, disability or health care need. Always find out who you are talking with and what role that person plays in your child's care. Write your questions in advance and also be sure to write down the answers you get so you can share the information with family members.


Find out as much as you can about your child's medical condition, disability or health care need. Contact the Edward A. Block Family Library at Riley Hospital for Children at 317-274-1149 for help.


Always have your child's most current medical records accessible so you can share with others, including health care providers, as appropriate. There are individual and family portable health profile kits available through the Riley Safety Store to help you store and update this information on portable disks or flash drives. For more information about these products, call the Riley Safety Store at 317-274-6565.


No one knows your child better than you. Trust your understanding, experience and inner sense of what your child needs, wants or is trying to communicate. Share your feelings, recommendations and perspective (that only you have) with medical care professionals. Remember: You are a member of your child's medical care team.

As this year ends, give thanks for all you love. Keep your child's health care family-centered next year and beyond – ask questions, learn, share information and speak up – through all of your interactions and communications with medical professionals in any health care setting. Every child's health and care is a shared responsibility and the outcomes that are accomplished are done so by both family members and medical care professionals working closely together.

Darla Cohen is Coordinator, Family Centered Care, Riley Hospital for Children.

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