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#NurChat: The effect of the environment on patients and health

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Every week Teresa Chinn, leader of #NurChat, will summarise her nursing twitter debates just for you

It isn’t often that we as nurses stop to consider the impact of the environment on patients and health as we are so busy caring for patients, helping them to wash and dress and assisting them to eat, dressing wounds, changing catheters, administering medications and not to mention keeping up with the mountains of paperwork.

But the environment around our patients, both local and global can be extremely significant to that patients health and wellbeing.

This is why @bennygoodman and @christellesongs suggested this subject for a NurChat discussion.

Both are keen advocates of sustainability in nursing and are raising awareness of the environment and the effect it has on patients and health.

When considering the environment and its impact the #Nurchat discussion participants initially clarified the definition of the environment and it was generally agreed that environment could be defined as being very local e.g. the hospital ward or global e.g. the implications of climate change.  It was agreed that both could have an impact on patients.

@christellesongs tweeted “In health terms the environment is all the physical, chemical and biological factors external to a person and related behaviours”

Primarily the nurses participating in the chat looked at the local environment and ward environments.

@nursiedeb tweeted “Keep noise to a minimum, lights to a minimum. Natural light if poss. Should be a proper difference between night and day”

Through out the course of the chat themes such as green spaces, the design of care environments, plants and flowers in hospitals and windows that looked out onto open spaces were discussed as being good things that were beneficial to patient recovery.  However time to make a impact on this environment was identified to be very short within most nurses working day.

When it came to the global environmental impacts on patients @SSHRPlymUni tweeted “Climate change is the greatest public health threat” There were many differing opinions on how and if nurses can make a difference @nursiedeb tweeted “I believe we as nurses are responsible for all aspects of the patient journey including environment.  We can’t do it all, but we can try” and @bennygoodman tweeted “A start is our own personal journey rethinking our own relationship with the environment”

The discussion went on to look at what the nurses taking part would change in their day to day practice as a result of the discussion and there were some very interesting points raised all of which can be found on the NurChat blog along with the complete transcript of the discussion.

The nurses who participated in this NurChat very much took on board the impact that the environment has on patients and health in general and some very good ideas were suggested on how we as nurses can make a difference both locally and globally to make a difference.

@christellesongs summed it up by tweeting “Small changes are the best place to start.  That’s why people bring flowers to the sick after all…”

Teresa Chinn heads up NurChat for Newcross Healthcare Solutions - Nurchat is a fortnightly twitter chat for nurses exploring different topics that vary enormously. Anyone can suggest a NurChat discussion subject simply by tweeting @NurChat or by visiting the NurChat blog

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