A look into the real world of nursing.
Don't get me wrong. Hospitals, doctors, nurses, medical treatments, surgery and pharmaceuticals are all vitally important to healthcare and 'being healthy', but there is more to being healthy than just being free from disease.
Rather than assessing patients as healthy or not-healthy, we should spend a little more time focussing on their overall wellbeing.
But what is wellbeing?
Wellbeing is an all encompassing and holistic term that looks at not only if a person is healthy, but other factors surrounding their life. Wellbeing includes good health, being happy or content, having good mental health, healthy coping strategies when dealing with stress, and a sense of meaning and purpose.
So, how does the healthcare system fit in with wellbeing?
Well, some argue that it doesn't. Yes, as nurses we provide holistically centred care for the patient and their family, but that care ends once a patient is discharged. And the patient leaves with little but the care, compassion and education we have given them during their stay.
This is somewhat of a failure of our westernised healthcare system, and leads to patient re-presenting to emergency departments (as a failed discharge), and requiring further admissions. Not only this, but patients often have longer stays than required.
How do we encompass holistic wellbeing into the health system?
Well, this is the tricky question. My belief is that the hospital system is best suited for acute conditions that require urgent treatment. Whereas chronic management is best supported and controlled outside of the hospital setting. Rather than just medicating our patients with chronic conditions think about how to treat them holistically. Would they benefit from remedial treatments such as acupuncture, massage, or reflexology? Would yoga or tai chi help them gain back their strength and flexibility with gentle exercise? What other factors in their home life are effecting their condition, and how can we make it better?
Food for thought, how can we go above and beyond for our patients to not only improve their health but improve their wellbeing.