It's all relative: Caring for family members
Thank you to the College of Registered Nurses of British Columbia for permission to adapt their case study.
As she hangs up the phone, Ling realizes she has a decision to make. Her sister, Naomi, is being discharged after an unexpected hospitalization and will need nursing care at home for several weeks.
As a registered nurse, Ling is used to fielding requests for minor care and advice from family members and friends. This situation however, will be more difficult to navigate. She knows her family will want her to be involved in Naomi’s care, and if she’s honest with herself, she would like to be as well. But would it be the best approach for everyone involved? How will Ling keep separate her roles as nurse and sister?
What do the standards and guidelines say?
CARNA’s Professional Boundaries Guidelines for the Nurse-Client Relationship document outlines requirements for nurses related to boundaries and professional relationships.
What should Ling consider?
- Reflect on why she wants to care for her sister and whether she can maintain her objectivity and professionalism.
- Explore all available options with her sister, family and care team.
- Decide if she is competent to provide the necessary nursing care in this setting.
- Consider whether her sister is fully informed and consents without feeling pressured or coerced.
- Consider how she will make it clear to everyone involved (her sister, her family, other health-care team members and herself) what nursing care she will be providing and in what circumstances.
- Think about how she will meet all professional and ethical standards
- Consider how she will communicate with her sister’s health care team and practise within the established plan of care.
What does Ling decide?
Ling decides against providing any nursing care
She’s also concerned that her sister and family may have unrealistic expectations about what she can or should do. She lets Naomi know that she’ll be there to support her, but not as her nurse.
Ling decides she wants to provide some nursing care
Ling is competent to provide the necessary nursing care in a home care setting and is clear about her role within the plan of care developed by the home care nurses. She believes family relationships and expectations will not interfere with her meeting her sister’s care needs but has a plan if issues arise.
Disclaimer: Our case studies are fictional educational resources. While we strive to make the scenarios as realistic as possible, any resemblance to actual people or events is coincidental.