Posted on February 18, 2016

Self-care does not mean that individuals are simply left to look after themselves without support from healthcare professionals. Rather, an overarching aim of self-care is to move away from over-dependence on overburdened healthcare systems and toward empowering people—with the appropriate tools, support and knowledge—to take better care of themselves.

Within today’s healthcare systems nurses have a particular role to play as respected professionals, valued for their personal approach, friendliness, skill, efficiency and accessibility. They are often seen as easier to interact with than doctors, as attentive, caring and closer to patients. Nurses are felt to have an important role in providing patients with supplementary information and reassurance, softening the medical setting. Patients need support with self-management of established medical conditions and nurses can play an increased role in this direction.

However, self-care exists substantially beyond the remit of healthcare systems – at home and in communities, well before the healthcare system itself is called upon. To achieve sustainable health (and healthcare) systems for the future, societies must reshape demand for health services, reducing the disease burden by helping people to stay healthy and empowering them to manage their health within the home and community environments.

Nurses live and work in the community, and exploration of new self-care opportunities and roles for nurses in the local setting is a much-needed priority. Self-care needs to be an integral part of people’s lives, and integrated into families, communities, organisations and society; as we move toward this goal, nurses can play a pivotal role.

ISF is therefore pleased to have provided the foreword for a new book by US (Arizona) nursing academics Katherine Renpenning, Judith Pickens, and Susan Taylor entitled Foundation of Professional Nursing: Care of Self and Others, published by Springer Publishing Company and available from May 2016. This book gives particular focus on the topic of nursing, healthy lifestyles and self-care.

Continuing the nursing theme, ISF has been invited to participate in a Portuguese nursing college programme of events later this year, designed to encourage self-care.

ISF is also pleased to welcome to our Academic Advisory Board Professor Barbara Riegel, Professor of Nursing, the Edith Clemmer Steinbright Chair of Gerontology and director of the Biobehavioral Research Center.

We look forward to a stronger and more explicit involvement of the nursing profession in encouraging self-care and healthy lifestyles in future.

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