How can nurses aid the rehabilitation process?

The older population is increasing every year, with more people expected to need the use of nursing homes at some point in their life. Many of these patients require residential care for short periods, often as the result of a previous injury or medical condition. Therefore, rehabilitation is an important area for nursing homes and the nurses themselves play a key role in delivering this service.

Patients within nursing homes often have complex care issues which relate to their medical conditions. This can make providing a comprehensive and effective rehabilitation programme more difficult. However, it is still a critical part of their care plan and a high quality rehabilitation service will enable them to become more independent once again. Due to their presence throughout the day, nurses are in a prime position to lead this programme and ensure that all areas of rehabilitation are provided correctly.

A nurse’s role

A report was conducted in 2013 that looked at the perceptions of nurses in Ireland regarding the role that they play in providing rehabilitation services (Nursing Times, Vol109 No29). The outcome of this research was that nurses saw themselves as key to the whole process. However, offering an effective rehabilitation programme is not without its difficulties. There were a number of issues that they routinely came up against, including time restraints and limits in what older people can do due to their cognitive and physical limits.

Improving rehabilitation within care homes

One of the ways the research indicated that rehabilitation could be improved within a care home setting was to create a greater sense of homeliness. This could include working closely with a patient’s family to understand more about their daily lives. A patient needs to feel that their routines and customs remain the same, regardless of where they are living.

They also need to be encouraged to do the activities that they would do in their own home. This feeling of homeliness is an effective way of enabling patients to be as independent as they can be. Part of a nurse’s role should be to enable them to take care of their own needs as much as possible. For example, cleaning and toileting themselves.

By initiating a successful rehabilitation programme, there will be less need for further medical care in the future. Patients who are more active and independent are less likely to suffer a fall or develop pressure ulcers and will have better pain management. All of these enable them to benefit from a better quality of life.

Nurses are crucial to providing this level of care and require the necessary skills and knowledge to undertake the work. Higher nurse to patient ratios allow them to provide a more personalised and dedicated service, all of which improves rehabilitation.

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