Over the last decade or so, health care has shifted focus from treatment of symptoms and disease processes, to more emphasis on prevention of disease, such as living an active
lifestyle and exercising regularly. Healthy diet and personal habits have also seen an increased emphasis in recent health promotion campaigns. Through these new approaches modern medicine has slowly moved away from the biomedical model as its sole foundation, and has moved towards a more holistic approach to healthcare, while using the solid scientific foundations of the biomedical model to treat patients in a more holistic context.
Consideration of the whole person in terms of their mind, body and spirit are the essence of holistic healthcare, which considers these three domains as interdependent and a whole system functioning in an environment. Through this approach, health is no longer defined as simply the absence of disease, but rather it is now described as the domains of mind, body, spirit and environment working together harmoniously. The basis of disease is now viewed as a multifaceted process, originating from both the external environment and also within the person themselves. The natural extension of this view is that a person can no longer be treated simply by a doctor, but will require a multidisciplinary team to restore them to a state in which they feel healthy.
The state of being healthy has also been redefined to simply be a state in which the individual’s various factors, spiritual, emotional, physiological and environmental are all in a state of equilibrium.
Nurses form an integral part of the holistic healthcare team, possessing a solid scientific knowledge of the body’s anatomy and physiology, as well as the ability to cater to the patients emotional and spiritual needs, the nurse is an important intermediary and advocate between the patient and the rest of the healthcare team.