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The Common good is about understanding how we, as individuals, society and Government, work together to create structures that empower people so that they are not left out of the community. It is a concept that has value in analysing moral and ethical issues affecting the care of vulnerable patient groups and communities.
Although nurses do not use theological perspective to address the issue of the common good, each nurse has a responsibility to work towards the common good. Healthcare providers from the doctors who help diagnose disease to the registered nurses who care for the patients, no matter how high or low, must share in promoting the wellbeing of the community. (Bishops of England and Wales).
This can be linked to community engagement, as an expression of a nurses mission, leads nurses to transform: not only a personal transformation which challenges nurses to move beyond their comfort zones and allow them to be shaped to become the best persons they can become, and come together as a community seeking to establish just and more human conditions for people and the whole of creation.
Community engagement in the healthcare system brings mutual relationships with health care professionals and their patients. It requires that that the healthcare work with their patients rather than ‘do for’ them; that as a whole they act collaboratively to make a difference in the world; and that each person in the community remains open to being influenced by the other and changed.
Despite the advantage of incorporating the common good into healthcare and nursing, there is still a crisis in aged care. The increase in aged care facilities also requires a rise in staff training in aged care and problems surrounding disability and chronic disease. An ageing population needs sufficient and qualified nurses. This relates to not only the number of nurses but the allocation and skills as well to the numbering patients. Of particular concern is the increased demand for nurses in the aged care district.
Nursing facilities have been found to have no minimum legal ratio of the workforce to patients, no minimum training requirement and no legislative requirement to have a nurse on duty at all times. The only legal obligation is the unenforceable rule that employees are adequate. The vast majority of care staff in nursing homes are assistants in nursing or personal care. Most staff working in a healthcare setting obtain a Certificate III qualification, though New South Wales Health figures show about six per cent have not even finished high school. The Aged Care Quality Agency (ACQA) found some facilities do not have enough “appropriately skilled and qualified staff” and that “clinical incidents are not consistently identified, monitored, reassessed or actioned promptly.” (quote for aged care quality).
One way to tackle this increasing demand for health services and workforce cuts as a nurse is to focus on effective organisation of care. The ageing population have higher amounts of multiple disabilities and diseases. So, focusing on the safe use of medication would decrease the demand for health services and workforce shortages. Such focus would reduce repetition of tests, medicating and medical records. Further efficiency might be achieved through more significant interaction with aged care services, with attention on both the care and the setting in which it is provided. Of particular interest is the interaction between the hospitals and the aged care system with 1 in 4 aged care residents visiting a hospital a year accounting for approximately 9% of hospitalisations. (quote)
Another way to address the crisis in aged care would be to open up dialogue on advance care planning. Advance care planning promotes care that is constant with a patient’s values, goals and beliefs. This plan Focuses on asking the patients of all ages to consider whom they would like to make decisions and actions on the patients’ behalf when the patient is no longer able to make healthcare decisions due to deteriorating health. The earlier a patient start planning for their aged care, the better asking the patient questions like, whom the patient would wish to maintain relationships with, including intimate partners. Thinking about how they will pay for home and aged care services, and whom they might rely on to be their advocate or carer. They are communicating their choices in writing and verbally giving as much information and detail as achievable to the doctors, nurse and any other healthcare professional, such as future carers and health providers. This procedure removes much of the guesswork later. Advanced planning can reduce anxiety, depression and stress experienced by families often asked to make medical decision for loved ones in need. (quote)
To address the challenge in the ageing population locally, communities can deliver various health care facilities to support the ageing population. An example is Meals on wheels which provides a food delivery service to people who are less mobile and unable to access food services easily. Retirement village and nursing homes and often offer a range of services to the elderly that are situated at their facility, which includes everyday activities, general practitioner visits at home and transport. Other home facilities will support them by cleaning houses and mowing lawns for the elderly such as Australian Unity home care.
The Australian Government’s primary should focus on improving the health of the ageing population to reduce or prevent chronic diseases. This incorporates encouraging good health across a person’s lifespan, thou many health conditions are not an outcome of getting older, but a persons’ lifestyle choices. The Government should seek to assist healthy ageing by preserving and refining the health and quality of life amongst the ageing population. This can be done through enhanced managing of chronic conditions and the use of many different strategies to facilitate healthy and active aging. Healthy aging requires the ageing population to promote and engage in healthy behaviours as well as to adapting to changing situations. The Government should seek to enable the ageing population to get involved in socially and economically in their local communities. Better health results are related to employment, thus increased health enables higher employment rates, and employment enables more significant health outcomes. The Government should also seek to improve the efficiency of the healthcare system. Directing care and safe use of medicine can also help reduce risks that come with duplication of tests and medical records not being available at the time of care. Further efficiency in the interaction with aged care and efforts to ensure proper and appropriate care will also improve the health of the elderly.
- 1 Bishops of England and Wales, The Common Good and the Catholic Church’s Social Teaching (1996), n.70.
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