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National Patient Safety Agency

Relatives-being involved

If someone close to you is in hospital, you may need to work with the doctors and nurses to help your relative on the road to recovery. Here are ways to reduce the stress on you all, by helping to make sure they get better as soon as possible.


  • Make sure your relative wants you to be involved in their care. Staff must have your relative’s permission to share their private information with you.

  • Check ward staff have your name and contact telephone numbers written in your relative’s notes.

  • Ask when ward rounds take place and if you can be there to talk to the doctor.

  • Your relative will be given a named nurse or key worker (also a trained nurse) who will be responsible for their care. Ask for a meeting with him or her to discuss any concerns.
  • Check with the ward staff that all the medicines your relative has been taking at home are noted down in their records. You must tell them about any vitamins and over-the-counter products. If they have any allergies, check this is in the notes too.
  • If a consent form needs to be signed for a surgical or nonsurgical procedure, staff are required to make sure your relative understands what is involved. You can ask to be present and spend time in private discussing the pros and cons with your relative before they sign the form.
  • If your relative has dementia, you can help by telling staff how best to talk to them and look after them.



relatives 2

When her mother Sheila, 92, fractured her femur, Jean Elgie, 55, from north London, took an active role.


"My mum is 92 and very active. But last year she broke her leg badly. Things got worse when she became infected with MRSA while in hospital.


"What happened to Mum would have floored someone half her age and although she has lost none of her marbles, she’s deaf in one

ear, which makes it difficult for her to understand what people are saying.


"So my brother, sister and I made sure the ward staff knew we wanted to be involved in her care. "I told them that she is sensitive to morphine so they knew that they needed to find another drug to ease her pain. I alerted them to a urine infection when Mum didn’t want to 'make a fuss’. The ward sister and registrar were very willing to talk to us. Sometimes we worried we were being a nuisance, but we were never made to feel that way.”


It's OK to ask if they've cleaned their hands

Germs can cause infections and hospital staff take hand hygiene seriously. Using a disinfectant handrub kills almost all bacteria in just 30 seconds, so the doctor or nurse won’t mind you asking if they’ve remembered to use it.



Please Ask about a sick relative