Establishing relationships with families in critical care is an essential part of high quality care. Critical care nurse-family relationships are important to the patient and family and also benefit the nurse. Thus, nurse-family relationships should be started when families first enter the critical care environment. Cooperative and collaborative relationships require negotiation and must consider the needs of the family as well as the nurse. Barriers need to be overcome before critical care nurse-family relationships can develop. Possible barriers include limited time, perceptions that families are stressors, dysfunctional response styles, and premature judgments. Essential qualities of successful relationships include: trust, respect, empathy, warmth, sensitivity, and touching, when appropriate. Each of these qualities is dependent on the verbal and nonverbal skills of the critical care nurse. As with anything worthwhile, relationship skills take practice to develop, involving a commitment to the importance of nurse-family relationships in critical care

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