Nurses play a vital role in promoting wellness in their patients. They are often the primary point of contact between patients and healthcare providers, and, as such, have a unique opportunity to positively impact patients’ well-being. Wellness encompasses various dimensions, such as physical, emotional, spiritual, environmental, intellectual, financial and social wellness. Below, we explore how nurses contribute to their patients’ wellness in these areas.
How nurses contribute to the emotional wellness of patients
One of the most important dimensions of wellness is emotional wellness, and nurses play an important role in supporting patients emotionally. Patients can experience a range of emotions depending on the situations they’re exposed to, such as sadness, fear, loneliness, anxiety and panic. Nurses can help to alleviate negative emotions in various ways, such as by comforting patients, providing reassurance and by listening to them. They use their knowledge and experience to guide patients and educate them on what to expect from procedures or treatments, which reduces their fear of the unknown.
Nurses can also help patients resist feelings of helplessness by empowering them in decision-making processes. They often give patients the information they need to actively contribute to their treatment, which can lead to better patient outcomes, as well as giving them more autonomy. To further improve emotional well-being in patients, nurses often use therapeutic techniques, like guided meditations, breathing exercises and other kinds of relaxation activities designed to reduce anxiety and stress. They can also arrange for mental health specialists to support patients and help them manage their emotional wellness.
A major aspect of promoting emotional wellness is creating an environment in which kindness and compassion thrive, which help patients feel dignified and respected. This also helps nurses proactively identify those who need support in terms of mental health and emotional distress. They observe their patients closely, conduct assessments and do screenings to find those most at-risk or struggling with depression and anxiety. This enables them to intervene as soon as possible and prevent emotional problems from worsening. Whether you’re interested in becoming a full-time nurse or considering nursing as a second career, having a direct impact on the emotional well-being of patients makes the job extremely rewarding.
How nurses contribute to the physical wellness of patients
Nurses tend to the physical health problems of their patients in many ways, from administering medications to monitoring vital signs. This allows them to identify their patients’ physical needs and deliver the most appropriate and effective care to help them recover from injuries and illnesses … caring for patients’ wounds in one way in which nurses treat patients physically, which involves cleaning and dressing wounds, then checking them regularly to ensure proper healing takes place. They also keep an eye out for signs of infections and intervene where necessary to prevent complications and promote healing.
When administering medications, one essential duty for nurses is observing patients to see if they have adverse reactions. If patients do experience side effects, nurses may adjust treatment plans or work with physicians to figure out the best way to intervene. Ensuring patients receive the correct dosages of medications and at the correct frequency is another essential component of managing patients’ physical health.
Besides these activities, nurses promote optimal physical health in certain patients by facilitating and encouraging physical activities, which can help them with mobility. This is particularly important for those recovering from mobility-limiting injuries and illnesses, as well as those at risk of developing blood clots or muscle problems. Nurses may encourage patients to get out of bed and walk around to prevent stiffness and muscle atrophy, and they also help patients with daily living by promoting mobility.
Many patients are at risk of falls for various reasons, be it due to general physical weakness, injury or the effects of medications, so nurses also play an important role in preventing injuries. This involves providing the right assistive devices for patients, ensuring patients don’t fall out of bed, and monitoring for signs of dizziness, for example. It’s vital for nurses to quickly spot signs of distress, and they use various technologies and techniques to do this. This includes monitoring vital signs and paying attention to changes in heart rate, blood pressure and respiration.
Lastly, nurses educate patients and their families so they can continue to promote optimal physical health after their departure from hospital or another healthcare setting. This may involve promoting good eating and sleeping habits or training patients and their families on how to manage health conditions. This promotes good long-term health, prevents readmissions and helps patients recover from physical ailments.
How nurses contribute to the spiritual wellness of patients
Spiritual wellness is another dimension of wellness that’s extremely important to many people, but can often be overlooked in the scientifically oriented healthcare space. While there are no real metrics to measure spiritual wellness, nurses can work with patients to understand their varying spiritual needs and do their best to respect them and promote spiritual health. Spirituality may relate to a person’s religion, culture or values, or it may be a belief in or a connection to a higher power.
It’s essential for nurses to support their patients’ spirituality, whether by creating a supportive environment for them to express their beliefs or arranging for spiritual figures, like priests and imams, to visit patients. Many healthcare facilities also have prayer rooms for patients, so nurses typically inform patients of their locations and invite them to visit if they’re inclined to do so. They may also provide resources in the form of spiritual texts or other artifacts that help patients spiritually.
There are also various activities that derive from spiritual traditions, like meditation and yoga, that can improve physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. Many doctors actually prescribe meditation nowadays to treat issues, like anxiety and depression. Nurses can integrate spiritual practices into their patients’ care to promote physical and spiritual wellbeing. Activities, like prayer, can also help patients come to terms with potentially difficult situations or find hope in their current situation, besides helping them relax and reinforcing their spiritual connections.
How nurses contribute to the social wellness of patients
As social creatures, a huge part of our wellness comes from our ability to socialize and the quality of our relationships with others. Social wellness impacts our overall well-being, so nurses try to promote social wellness in patients in various ways. They engage with patients socially by listening to them and connecting with them on a personal level, and they also encourage connecting with friends and family. By taking the time to understand a patient’s unique social needs and connections, like their community, friends or family, they can help patients maintain social networks and promote wellbeing.
Encouraging interactions between patients, such as through support groups or regular conversations, can help to produce a more positive environment and reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness that can accompany illness and injury. Nurses can also organize social events to boost the social wellness of patients, as this gives them opportunities to connect those going through similar experiences, which promotes feelings of belonging. If patients require resources and support that nurses are unable to provide, nurses can connect them with social services and other institutions and organizations.
Nurses also create positive social settings and facilitate socializing by minimizing conflicts, which is why nurses possess conflict-resolution and communication skills. If patients disagree or argue, nurses can intervene and mediate conversations to find resolutions. They can also work with patients to identify and resolve social issues, helping them to build better relationships with family members and peers.
How nurses contribute to the intellectual wellness of patients
Another dimension of wellness is intellectual wellness, which is the ability to think clearly, learn and engage in mentally stimulating activities that promote mental development. Nurses help patients exercise their intellect and form positive cognitive habits by providing education activities and resources, such as books, puzzles and mind games.
Activities that require critical thinking and problem-solving can help patients maintain their intellectual sharpness, as well as keep their minds occupied and entertained. Patients with physical limitations are especially receptive to the positive benefits of intellectually stimulating activities, as these activities don’t require much physical input.
Educating patients about their condition, treatment options or general health and wellness can also be mentally stimulating. This may relate to sleeping, eating, stress reduction or exercise techniques. Those struggling with illnesses or injuries that impair their ability to think clearly or people with overactive thought patterns can benefit from cognitive therapy techniques like mindfulness and positive affirmation. This can give patients increased control over their minds, allowing them to access intellectually engaging activities and grow mentally.
Sometimes patients must overcome obstacles that prevent them from reaching a state of intellectual wellness, such as cognitive problems or learning disabilities. Nurses apply their training to identify the varying needs of patients and use their judgment to decide which activities are most appropriate, providing guidance where necessary. For example, they may work with patients with learning difficulties and provide the right support to help them develop intellectually, boosting their overall well-being. If this sounds like a career path you’d enjoy, the demand for nurses is currently high, so now might be a good time to pursue it.
How nurses contribute to the environmental wellness of patients
Various internal and external factors influence a person’s well-being, and the environment in which a person exists is a huge external contributor to wellness. Nurses are some of the most important figures in healthcare settings when it comes to establishing and maintaining environments that are conducive to well-being. Promoting clean and safe environments is a crucial duty, as this helps to prevent injuries and infections, whilst also adding comfort for patients, who may spend extended periods in these environments. They may also help patients understand how their environment outside of the hospital impacts their health, such as factors like pollution.
Within hospitals and other healthcare environments, cleanliness is of the utmost importance, as this minimizes the risk of infection and disease for patients. Nurses receive training on strict disease and infection-control protocols, which helps to protect staff and patients. Hospitals are stocked with hygiene and sanitation supplies that patients can access, and nurses often encourage patients to follow good hygiene protocols, like washing hands regularly, to promote a healthy environment.
The wider environment in which we all live has a massive impact on our health, and nurses sometimes educate patients and the public on how things, like air quality, can affect health and wellness. Helping people understand these environmental factors and giving them the information they need to minimize the risk to themselves and their families can help to reduce hospital admissions and promote good health in communities. Advocating for sustainable policies at the local government level is another way that nurses drive positive change in environments. Nurses are in a unique position to understand the health implications of certain things, like poor-quality water, and may use their expertise to spearhead change in their communities.