The Role of the Family

Families are the most important unit within our social system.  Families play a huge role in many people’s lives.  Some examples of family types are:

  • Single-parent families include one parent with a child or children.
  • Nuclear families include two parents with a child or children.
  • Blended families include widowed or divorced parents who have remarried, with children from previous marriages as well as from this marriage.
  • Multigenerational families include parents, children, and grandparents.
  • Extended families may include aunts, uncles, cousins, or even friends.
  • Families may also be made up of unmarried couples of the same sex or opposite sexes, with or without children.

Today a family is defined more by supporting each other than by the particular people involved.  Your clients’ families may not look like the kind of family you are used to.  Clients with no living relatives may have friends or neighbors who function as a family.  Whatever kinds of families your clients have, recognize the important role they can play.  Family members help in many ways:

  • Helping clients make care decisions.
  • Communicating with the care team.
  • Providing daily care when home health aide is not present.
  • Giving support and encouragement.
  • Connecting the client to the outside world.
  • Giving assurance to dying clients that family memories and traditions will be valued.