Get well sooner: how to enhance patient wellbeing
Monday 9 September 2019
What is wellbeing?
Wellbeing is, according to the Oxford Dictionary, the ‘state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy’. It incorporates good mental health, life satisfaction and prosperity. It’s about feeling well holistically, throughout the mind, body and soul.
What is patient wellbeing?
Patient wellbeing refers to the positive experience of the individual who is in care, both during and after receiving treatment. To aid their recovery, patients – as well as their families and close ones – must feel well physically and mentally. It’s especially important in hospitals and other healthcare centres, which can often be stressful and uncomfortable environments.
Why do we need to improve patient wellbeing?
Patients who have good wellbeing during their hospital visits should be able to recover quicker, and this brings a number of benefits. Research has shown that an overall high-quality patient experience is key to providing better health outcomes.
Patients can, therefore, hopefully suffer for less time and be discharged sooner, easing the pressures on the NHS from the evolving demands of healthcare – such as a growing population and congested hospitals.
So if patients are given a high-quality overall experience and can recover quicker, long hospital stays are reduced. This means more bed spaces are freed up and there is less pressure on hospitals, which in turn means that hospital staff can provide a better experience for new patients and those who continue to be in their care.
How can we enhance patient wellbeing
There is a range of factors to keep in mind when working towards improving patient health and wellbeing. It’s not necessarily easy or cheap, but it’s important.
As the World Health Organisation (WHO) puts it, “A health-promoting hospital does not only provide high quality comprehensive medical and nursing services, but also develops a corporate identity that embraces the aims of health promotion, develops a health-promoting organisational structure and culture, including active, participatory roles for patients and all members of staff, develops itself into a health-promoting physical environment, and actively cooperates with its community.”
All of the following can be introduced or enhanced to boost patients’ immune systems and help aid quicker recovery. (Please note that this isn’t a definitive guide.)
Surround with a healing environment
Because of biophilia – the human need for closeness to nature – a natural-feeling environment that isn’t purely clinical (and intimidating!) can help patients to relax, and encourage the mind and body to heal. Sky Inside’s Living Skies offer a nourishing alternative to spaces that have little access to nature and natural light. They have been medically proven to reduce stress and anxiety, and help aid recovery.
Nourish with good food
The body needs to be nourished with a good variety of food that can be tailored to patients’ needs. Hospital canteens often only serve carb-heavy meals, meaning that patients don’t necessarily receive the nutrients the body needs for healthy growth and repair. By eating nutritious foods, patients can be on their way towards feeling better.
Beat loneliness with human interaction
Sufficient human interaction can greatly reduce feelings of loneliness and depression. Hospital staff who are friendly and kind can help provide this interaction, as well as flexible visiting hours which allow family and friends to visit without being constrained by work or other commitments.
Offer activity and encourage physical movement
For patients who are able to, exercise and general feel-good activity can help people to feel better physically, mentally and emotionally. There are many things hospitals and healthcare centres can do to encourage this and get patients moving. Examples include:
Provide information and psychological support
Patients need to be well-informed about their situation, as it can be scary and discouraging not be told what’s going on. Additionally, psychological support – before and after admission – can really help mental wellbeing.
Focus on family-centred care
Especially for children, family wellbeing is highly important for patient recovery and welfare. Many hospitals offer psychological support for families, and there are also multi-faith centres and relaxation spaces that families, as well as patients, can use.
Ensure aftercare and support the wider community
Wellbeing and patient care go beyond the hospital stay, especially in order to reduce the risk of having to return. The NHS has plenty of help and support for promoting healthy lifestyles and self-care and preventing ill health. This includes helping people to quit smoking, promoting a healthy diet, providing support for those with addictions and mental health conditions, and much more.