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Empowerment of families

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Product Description

By Cynthia L Schultz, Carl L Parsons

Published: 1997
Pages: 140 (PDF version)


The health care system can be very difficult for individuals and families to navigate, so often family members will find themselves at the mercy of an unsupportive, and even detrimental, system. Yet it is vital that all involved remain well informed and be given a voice. Disadvantaged families tend to be the least empowered in society. There is often a large discrepancy between available information and what would be required to make sound decisions for the family's welfare.

Empowerment of Families focuses on concepts of partnership, allowing the family to play an integral role in decision-making in the areas of healthcare, education, and navigating public life. Highlights include:

  • Envisioning movement away from external control to individual families determining their best interests
  • Redefining empowerment
  • Bereavement support and education for families and nurses
  • Increasing involvement for families in health care and education
  • Communication technology as a means of empowerment

Claire Parsons reviews the theory and practice of empowerment before moving into the specifics of two family health projects. She highlights the need for "establishing pedagogies for enabling people to shape private and public life.

Whelan & Kirkby draw attention to health care professionals' lack of understanding of parents' desired involvement during their child's hospitalisation.

McDonald et al test the utility of the Family Adaptation Model to create a Family Profile and Individual Family Plan for families of children with developmental disabilities. These assessments can help families better identify their strengths and ongoing needs.

Rogers & Schultz consider death education on the level of the individual, the family, and the supporting health care professionals. So often terminal patients and their family members are unaware of available options and also lack appropriate support and counselling. Bereavement support for both family and nurses is also addressed.

Foreman et al describe a unique program that uses volunteers as liaisons between schools and families, so that families better understand the expectations and requirements of the school.

Another way to empower families is through communication technology. With increased access to information, as Carl Parsons explains, families can gain independence and develop strong decision-making abilities. Parsons also points out that there are inherent barriers in the field of communication technology, such as illiteracy and limited access, yet assures us that these can be overcome.

Central to all six articles are the concepts of enabling, creativity, positive promotion, and partnership. Self-empowerment, gaining access to and control over resources, skills acquisition such as decision-making and problem-solving are yet other key words which appear time and again throughout this special issue.

This is essential reading for researchers, lecturers, students, and practitioners in the fields of family studies or sociology and trust it will enrich lives and serve in the empowerment of many families.

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