Nursing is by nature holistic - to consider the broader needs of the patient as well as their immediate medical needs. Often patients have deeper emotional, family, financial or housing difficulties that you become aware of and consider in the context of the care you are giving. There are limits to what you can do in that one consultation, but by working with other teams, such as social services, the patient can be helped in a broader manner.
But how realistic is this vision for truly holistic care? How easy is working across agencies or locating the services you need when you need them? Gaps in services can make things impossible. All too often the vision of holistic nursing comes down to nothing more than giving some brief advice and then on to the next patient.
The White Paper on public health is a vision of health rather than illness. It is a major document with messages for all areas of the health and social services, and in theory has the clout behind it to make broad and fundamental changes across the board.
The principle behind it is pretty radical, with some plain thinking. We are concerned about the health of our increasingly obese children. Let's ban junk food advertising around children's TV programmes. Children don't eat enough fruit. Let's give them free fruit at school. We know that poorer people have less access to health care. Let's provide those services in a different way.
This is, surely, what nursing has been waiting for. At last the national direction behind fundamental changes for our patients' health. But already there could be signs of less punch behind the power plan - restrictions on advertising to children may be voluntary only, for example. This visionary plan could be in danger of dilution on implementation.
From policy to practice ...
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