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A social approach to health

11 July 2019
Volume 28 · Issue 13


Sam Foster, Chief Nurse, Oxford University Hospitals, considers what acute services can learn from social care and community models for patient-centred, personalised care

Despite some beautiful summer weather in the last few weeks, my colleagues and I are beginning to think about planning for winter.

An address at a conference I attended, that has really influenced my thinking in practice, was delivered by Duncan Selby, Chief Executive of Public Health England. He asked us all—a group of senior nurses from the acute sector—to raise our hands if we worked in health care. We dutifully all raised our hands, at which he told us all that we were wrong, as we all worked in illness, whereas health was about someone's ability to work, for example, to socialise, to go to the hairdressers—not to sit in a hospital bed with illness or injury being nursed by us.

Much has been learnt about the effects of prolonged hospital stays. The national Twitter campaign ‘End PJ Paralysis’ (#pjparalysis) was discussed by Oliver (2017), who reflected that the starting premise of the campaign aimed to encourage healthcare staff, families and patients to get more hospital inpatients out of nightwear, out of bed, and into their day clothes to speed their recovery and help minimise harm from prolonged immobility. Oliver (2017) went on to discuss the importance of this approach, particularly with a rise in an ageing population, and an increase in competing pressures on nursing staff coupled with a variable availability of therapy teams, which means that getting people up, dressed and mobile can fall down the list of priorities.

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