Thursday, September 13, 2012

Patient-Family Support Websites: A wonderful Idea!


CaringBridge horizontal logo version thumbnail 

I recently learned about patient-family support websites such as CaringBridge.com following the unexpected and heartbreaking hospitalization of a family friend that has become protracted. I have witnessed as a nurse and with friends how prolonged hospitalizations can cripple a family financially. Communicating information to anyone connected to the patient adds additional stress to family members closest to the situation. Patient-family support websites make an excellent alternative for the endeavor of informing family and loved ones of the patient's condition. In popular social media sites, posted announcements about the patient can be easily lost in the rapid stream of information. Privacy may also be a concern.

On “caring sites,” Patient stories can be shared by the family in a private setting. Caring Bridge offers, a personal, protected online space where one can post health updates and keep friends and family informed. On my friend’s account, journal entries made by the family keep me informed of his current status. Friends and family can also enter messages in the “Guest Book” that is also found on the personal site. In general, messages are a source of support, encouragement, prayers, and hope.

Imagine a head of a household or a self-supporting individual who is unexpectedly hospitalized. Consider if the hospital is not nearby or the family members are from out of state. Commuting, childcare, meals, and lodging expenses add up quickly, while household bills must still be paid on time. Raising money helps in this situation but there are very few people I know who are experienced in fund-raising or setting up a web site to accomplish this task.  Patient-family support websites can also serve as central area that can link to donation accounts specifically set up for the patient.

The Caring Bridge is a non-profit 501(c)(3) charity. The individual sites are made possible at no cost through donations.  See the video below for more information on CaringBridge.

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