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Finding ways to care for the caregiver

Last Modified: 5/22/2018

There’s a conscious shift toward holistic care for members of the Parkview nursing community. The principles of this ideology are incredibly important for those tending to and interacting with patients every day, but the concept isn’t limited to this one profession. Whether overseeing the family schedule with busy little ones or offering comfort and transportation for an older parent, many adults fall under the caregiver category. Jill Zahm, MSN, RN-BC, nurse navigator, Parkview Center for Healthy Living, offers a deeper explanation of holistic care, as well as some concepts that apply to, not just healthcare workers, but anyone who isn’t making self-care a priority.

What is holistic care?

Essentially, holistic nursing is the art and science of caring for the whole person. It is based on the belief that dynamic mind-body-spirit interactions are ongoing and impact a person's ability to grow and heal. Holistic nurses aim to promote health and wellness as they facilitate their client's growth and healing.

Why is holistic care so important for caregivers?

The public is demanding a more holistic, caring, compassionate approach to healthcare and between 38 and 64 percent of Americans are utilizing complementary/alternative methods of care. Holistic nurses can provide authentic leadership during health care reform and improve patient and staff satisfaction. The practice reduces burn out by educating and encouraging self-care practices. Nurses that nurture themselves are more emotionally, physically and mentally prepared to meet the high demands of their job.

What are some ways caregivers can practice holistic care throughout their day?

At work, they can practice centering and intention-setting daily. They can encourage breaks by tapping in for stressed co-workers, and enjoy breaks more by getting a break buddy each shift. We also have respite rooms available.

Outside of work, I would suggest a yoga class or video, some guided imagery (on CD or YouTube), keeping a mindfulness journal, affirmation cards/books, Dr. Dave Johnson’s monthly stress reduction class at the Parkview Center for Healthy Living or a massage at the Center for Healthy Living. Take a walk, step outside after a busy day and take a moment to look at the night sky. Try progressive muscular relaxation before bed, eat a whole food diet (take advantage of farmer’s markets), stay hydrated and make sleep a priority.

What would you say to someone who feels selfish employing these methods?

Self-care is never selfish! We cannot serve others from a dry well. Holistic nursing empowers nurses to live and promote a healthy lifestyle.

How can holistic care improve a caregiver’s ability to help others?

How you are with the patient is the important principle of holism – Are you being present and non-judgmental? Learning that it is not what we do to them but how we are with them. That is when the true presence of nursing can foster a healing, trusting relationship between nurse and patient.

What other resources are available for those interested in holistic care?

American Holistic Nurses Association (AHNA) 
American Holistic Nurses Certification Corporation (AHNCC) 
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)  

For more on holistic nursing, read our People of Parkview with Sarah Weaver.



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