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Sharing social media with your patients

Image: Jochen Sands | Digital Vision | Thinkstock

You work all day to help your patients get well. But what about the patients’ families? How many times have you watched desperate family members make and receive a dozen phone calls every hour trying to keep loved ones informed about the patient’s health status? Not only is it stressful for the family members, but the interruption can lead to a breakdown in communication between you, the patient and the patient’s family.

One way that nurses are helping to improve the inpatient experience is through CaringBridge, a social media website designed for patients and their families to communicate with loved ones. CaringBridge not only helps to cut back the phone-call chaos, but can also serve as an important outlet for long-term care patients to stay connected with the outside world and receive the support they need.

Watch this video of nurses talking about CaringBridge:

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We asked Sona Mehring, founder and executive director of CaringBridge, to give us some fast facts about the social media site.

Scrubs: What kind of patient is CaringBridge most ideal for?
Sona: CaringBridge is ideal for any patient facing a serious health event such as cancer, premature birth or injury, or an extended hospital stay. Any patient or caregiver who could use a way to simplify communication and easily stay connected with family and friends can benefit from creating a personal CaringBridge website.

Scrubs: How does CaringBridge help ease the pain of extended hospital stays?
Sona: CaringBridge keeps patients and their caregivers connected to family and friends, even when in-person visits and phone calls aren’t possible. Health updates are shared in the online journal so loved ones can stay up to date on the situation. Caring family and friends can receive a notice every time the journal is updated and can respond with notes of encouragement in the guestbook. This creates an online network of support that can be accessed 24/7 to share and view information. Many patients have said that having easy access to their messages in one spot helps them feel less isolated.

Scrubs: What are some tips that nurses can pass along to their patients about using CaringBridge?
Sona: Nurses should let their patients know that CaringBridge is free, available to anyone who needs it and easy to set up. It takes just minutes to create a personal, private CaringBridge website. Each website can be used as long as the family wants, and its contents can also be printed into a CaringBook when the website is no longer needed. We also hear from nurses that their patients find journaling on CaringBridge to be a great way to document a health journey as well as receive love and support from family and friends.

Scrubs: How can nurses help their patients get started?
Sona: We want nurses to know that it’s as easy as telling your patients to go to CaringBridge.org to get started. CaringBridge answers all customer service questions so nurses don’t have to worry about providing specific instructions. We also provide materials like brochures and handouts that nurses and hospitals can give to their patients, and can also be placed in areas like resource centers and next to computers in healthcare facilities. These materials are available for free and online.

Have you seen patients connect through CaringBridge? What do you think?

Visit the CaringBridge website. You can also follow CaringBridge on Twitter and Facebook.

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3 Responses to Sharing social media with your patients

  1. This is a great idea! Like twitter but private and useful. However HIPPA laws might not mesh so well with even a private site but I think it would be a great idea. As someone who had a parent in the hospital and no way to contact them but from phone calls through their minister at the church a way to let them know that I cared and to hear the news easily would be great!

  2. mary

    Please at least allow me to read about barb and john woodrum…even if they do not want me to reply. I still care about the life of another human being, not just about her bucket.

  3. I am trying to get in connection with Shayla Floyd’s journals.. Her mother is my prayer partner and wants
    me to read them.

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