The Importance of a Family Spokesperson

When a loved one is in the hospital with a serious illness, it is an emotional and anxious time. Family members can experience an array of emotions like fear, jealousy, guilt, resentment, anger, denial, grief and fear. As a result, families can disagree about what is best for their loved one.

“Communication is your most important tool during a family crisis,” said Kelly Neal, LSW, Advanced Care Management social work manager at Memorial Medical Center. “It’s important to designate a spokesperson within the family. This person can serve as the single point of contact for your loved one’s caregivers and communicate any updates to the rest of the family. This not only streamlines communication within your family, it also eases the burden of answering multiple calls for the nurses and other care providers who are caring for your family member.”

The family spokesperson is the primary contact to call the hospital and to receive calls from the hospital. Often the spokesperson is the patient’s designated healthcare power of attorney, but not always. A spokesperson should be a good listener who is able to prevent confusion when delivering information. They should also take notes, detailing who they speak with and when.

If your family is struggling with communication, our team has licensed clinical social workers who can help you start this conversation.

Advance Care Planning

For resources, including downloadable forms, for advance care planning, please visit our website or contact Memorial Health System’s Advance Care Planning facilitator at 217-757-7253, Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. for:

  • Care planning materials
  • Advance directives
  • Guidance and support

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