The contribution of nurses within any society is undoubtedly a large
and important one, below is part of a speech made by someone much more
important than me who thinks the same thing.
Speech for the Chief Minister Jon Stanhope at a breakfast for
International Nurses Day, 7.00am Friday 10 May 2002, at Southern Cross
Yacht Club, Mariner Place, Yarralumla Northern Territory Australia
- On how nurses serve to enhance family health and well being:
"The traditional family as we once knew it has changed dramatically
over the last few decades. We now have single parent families, blended
families, dual career families, same sex families, families with
foster children and an increasing number of families without children.
Families have changed in both their structure and function, and
continue to change in response to societal trends and other pressures,
including the ageing of the population, a decline in birth rates and
family size, the changing and blurring of gender roles and
The effects of poverty and other difficult social, political and
economic situations have also impacted severely on the family. And the
most extreme end of poverty - homelessness - is a growing problem with
grave health and social consequences such as vulnerability to illness,
injury and disability.
The themes of caring for displaced and refugee families are
particularly poignant. We are all acutely aware of the devastation
wrought on the families of refugees and the consequent adverse
immediate and long term health effects.
But regardless of these influences and of the shape and form of
todays family, it has proved to be a resilient institution that is
very much alive and kicking.
This is due in no small part to the vital role that nurses have played
in the health and well-being of the family as a unit the world over.
Family care is an inherent and vital part of the nursing role.
Historically nurses cared for people at home within the context of the
extended family. This concept was overtaken for some time by
hospitalisation and specialisation.
The return to community based and home care that we see today, and our
enhanced understanding of the importance of family relationships in
health and illness, is testament to the importance of family focused
"The International Council of Nurses describes a nine star nurse - a
description that recognises the many roles that nurses caring for
families frequently play. This role may consist of:
health educator; [this is a way that they reduce factors that damage
health - shananigans-ga]
care provider and supervisor;
case finder and epidemiologist;
manager and coordinator;
counsellor [this strengthen's the family's ability to cope, and
teaches them how to deal with (eg) stress and grief 'for future
Family care involves a continuum of care across the life span and
includes health promotion, disease prevention and detection [and also
educating families on how to prevent diseases themselves - eg getting
children immunised, sunscreen to prevent skin cancer, breast
self-examination - shananigans-ga], intervention, treatment and
palliative care. Nurses are involved in all aspects of this care
"Nurses always there for you : caring for families" Notes of address
by Heather McGregor, ACT Community Advocate
"We know that all that makes us feel good happens in families - apart
from breathing air and eating food, we have a need to belong ... to a
But families also provide the context for abuse, sexual and physical
and financial - of children - older people - domestic violence -
how do we juggle interests within families ?
a purist rights based approach doesn't assist in the scenarios I
outlined because if we care for families, whose rights do we protect ?
thankfully ... my mandate is very clear - it is to make decisions in
my client's best interests - to act in their best interests requires
that I make decisions which maintain or enhance family relationships -
and at the same time I must be concerned about safety, least intrusive
interventions, most normalising, consistent with lifestyle - etc - and
safety must be a primary concern (principles in guardianship law)
My job is about trying to keep a focus on the interests of the patient
with impaired decision making ability - they too, are entitled to
quality nursing care, comfort and support, quality medical
interventions, a second opinion, pain relief, and to die with
Ms McGregor, it would seem, thinks that nurses best care for families
by acknowledging that bad things can happen within families, and that
the protection of the family unit above all else should not be the way
to go. In this sense, for a nurse to 'strengthen a family's ability
for self-care and coping' could mean that she encourage a battered
woman to remove herself and her children from the 'family' situation.
I think this is a valid point - 'caring for families' has to mean the
individual members of the family, and not just 'enforcing Liberal
Government ideas that the family unit should trump all else'.
A piece of personal opinion:
From the day a child is born, nurses help look after 'the family.
Nurses in most cases teach women how to breast feed correctly, and
sometimes even how to change a nappy. A nurse may even come home with
the family for the first few days to ensure everything gets off to a
smooth start. Moreover, throughout the child's development it is
nurses who make sure they are gaining weight adequately, who immunise
them, and who give stressed-out parents a shoulder to cry on. Nurses
provide support to families when one of their members are in hospital,
and they often come to schools to teach teenagers about reproductive
and sexual health. Nurses care for the elderly, and provide palliative
care for those in their last days, all the while providing support to
family members who may not know how exactly to deal with the sickness
or loss of a loved one. Nurses do a lot toward helping families stay
strong, and I think they deserve more recognition for it.
+nurses +contribution society family Australia
role of nurses Australia family
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