Observing the influence of the physical environment on family involvement in a rehabilitation setting.

Introduction: Health professionals and institutions need to understand how to facilitate family involvement within settings designed prior to the adoption of patient- and family-centered philosophies. This study sought to explore how the physical environment of an inpatient rehabilitation setting influenced family involvement in health care delivery. Method: We conducted this study on the inpatient acquired brain injury ward of a Canadian adult rehabilitation center. This study used a basic interpretive qualitative approach. We conducted observations of how the physical environment influenced the conversations, interactions, and activities, which were central to family involvement, in this setting. We used a systematic qualitative analysis method. This study received research ethics board approval prior to commencing. Results: We conducted 26 2-hr observation sessions. Five sessions occurred in the morning, 17 in early and late afternoon, and 4 in the evening. Eighteen sessions occurred on a weekday and 8 on a weekend day. The following 6 categories emerged from the field data: (a) accessing health professionals, (b) awareness of family presence, (c) facilitating family presence, (d) facilitating patient–family activities, (e) providing information for families, and (f) facilitating family involvement in therapy. Discussion: This study provided information to inform future discussions and strategies for facilitating family involvement within the existing physical environments of health care institutions. Initial steps should consider ways to help families feel welcomed, such as including additional seating in spaces, posting signage inviting families into spaces, having resources tailored to families readily available, and creating a visible sign-in/sign-out board for families. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)