Nursing leaders can incorporate holistic care by first checking that the corporate culture knows what consumers want.

Jesus Cepero, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, saw a profound example of holistic patient and family care when a priest was called in to provide comfort to a dying hospital patient and the patient’s family.

“He created an environment in this room where everyone was almost comfortable with the situation, and it moved our thinking from trying to save a life to the needs of the patient and his family,” says Cepero. “I will never forget that.”

Cepero, who recently joined Stanford Children’s Health in the San Francisco Bay Area as Senior Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer and leads more than 1,900 nurses there, is committed to providing holistic patient and family care that encompasses mind, body and spirit.

“I’ve always felt that mind, body, and spirit are three things that I took care of myself, and for me it’s just part of my life and my own spiritual background,” he says. “So when I think about programs or services or the care that patients and families need, I think in those terms.”

With more than 20 years of leadership experience in the healthcare sector, Cepero has held senior nursing and operational positions in a variety of specialties for the past eight years, including adult and pediatric emergency departments, critical care, services for women and infants, forensics and surgery as Chief Nursing Officer for large health systems.

Advanced science, new drugs, and cutting edge practices have made modern health care more efficient, but they’re not the only aspects of healing, he says.

“We have learned great things and the patients have gotten better, but in this task-oriented mindset, you forget the patient’s spiritual needs or the patient’s wellness needs,” he says. “It is important that we have a good approach to social services or care management to make sure we meet all of the patient’s needs, as well as highly technical and competent health care providers to meet the needs of the individual as much as possible.” as wellness and healing. “

During his time at Meritus Health in Maryland from 2012 to 2017, Cepero used behavioral testing to conduct depression tests, set up a cancer center survival program, and re-design the pastoral care program.

The east meets the west

Holistic healing is nothing new. A holistic healing has been noted in Chinese literature dating back 5,000 years, and treatment in the East – therapeutic touch, acupuncture, aromatherapy, medication – is now rooted in everyday Western health care to help patients cope with the stress of their illness or disease to help, says Cepero.

“Florence Nightingale spoke about mindfulness and spirituality in nursing about 120 years ago when she was caring for patients, so this is not new,” he says.

But even with Florence Nightingale’s insight, western health care has focused primarily on illness or injury for the past few decades, he says.

“We have changed a lot in the last 50 to 75 years, from trying to treat the injury or illness to looking at a person as a whole and trying to meet those needs,” he says, “because you Could heal someone But are you missing the things that were important to the person or family: How are they treated for their spiritual needs? How are they treated for mindfulness? How can they adapt to the new disease entity or injury they face have? do you experience? “

The consumer has advanced holistic health care, he says.

“It was more of a requirement on the part of patients, where patients want to be cured and cured, but also want to be treated well,” he says. “And they want all of their needs to be met.”

Obstacles to holistic care

According to Cepero, one of the most difficult obstacles to holistic care is a language barrier.

“Hospitals invest a lot of money in having translators available 24/7 so you can understand one another, because one of the principles of holistic care is listening to the patient or family to meet their needs … and how do you do that when you are unable to communicate with them? ”he says.

A language barrier doesn’t just apply to different cultures. “For the English-speaking patients and families, a lot of time and attention has been devoted to communication because you want to assess how to communicate with them,” he says. “Some people like verbal communication, others want to see them in writing, and others like videos so they can have a clear understanding of their illness or injury.”

A patient’s socio-economic situation could also stand in the way of holistic treatment, says Cepero. For example, a patient may choose to have acupuncture or massage treatment for their illness or injury, but the insurance does not cover the procedure and the patient cannot afford to pay for it.

Integrating holistic health into a hospital

CNOs interested in introducing or expanding holistic care into their healthcare system should start with three steps, says Cepero.

“First, I would evaluate the corporate culture and see if they are aware of the holistic approaches that our patients and our consumers are demanding,” he says. Second, I would ask them to think about the resources they are making available to their patients – their nursing needs – so that they can ensure that the nurses have the time to manage the holistic approaches to meet those patient needs. “

Third, I like our system where we have focus groups of patients and families and judge from the perspective of patients and families or even from the community perspective how they want to deliver their health services, he says.

Integrating holistic health can also happen during the COVID-19 pandemic, as nurses can make it happen as nurses regardless of their time can still find time to stop and meet patients’ needs, says Cepero.

“You have heard many stories of unhappy COVID patients dying and their families unable to be there, but the nurses stopped and connected to the family on their phone or iPad so that person was not there in the time of their death themselves “, he said. “I take pride in our profession that, no matter how taxed our nurses are, in most cases they still slow down to address the holistic needs of patients and ensure they meet their needs in times of crisis.”

Carol Davis is a nurse for HealthLeaders, a brand of HCPro.

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