Reflections of my past 12 months with PreKure…

To be a nurse is a privilege. It is to be part of the intricate human experience of infirm.  It is to trust and be trusted, and to deliver compassionate daily care. It is to listen and to learn. It is to act.

What do I see? I see the heartbreak and frustration of caring for our ever-increasing younger and younger chronically ill clients. I see unnecessary suffering. I see families and whānau in incredible pain. I see the band aid, or rather, prescriptive approach to health. I see burnt-out clinicians with immeasurable workload. I see good people with the desire to do more. I see the client with no voice. I see the machine that is our sickness system.

As nurses, are we too busy tending to the growing number of chronically ill? Too focused on upskilling and being expert in all competencies, so as to cover a multitude of needs? Our clients trust us, know us. We believe in our clients. We know they show strength and resilience. We know they want change. How can we help them to be proactive? How can we help them take charge of their own health lifespan? How can we sustain our own health as nurses, while maintaining the burden of this growing workload?

To prevent has been at the core of our nursing history since the time of the Crimean war, when Florence Nightingale used data visualisation to realise preventative sanitation practices in her Notes on Nursing. Have we lost our way? Are we overwhelmed by the needs of our exponentially growing chronically ill? Can we reset? Do we look to the future where the taxpayer’s dollar can no longer sustain this path? Can we go back to basics and work alongside the person seeking wellness? Can we work with their strengths and capability to create new discourse?

Our clients come, in increasing multitude, with heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, mental illness, obesity and even early onset dementia. I see fear in their eyes. I see hope. But all too often, I do not see an understanding of their part in the deal, of the vital healthy lifestyle changes to be made. Those basic human needs of sleep, movement, good nutrition (unprocessed whole food) and social interaction are barely considered, if at all as part of the plan to achieve wellness. Medication alone seems to have become the holy grail. Do our outcomes reflect this?

When first considering the position as a nurse with the PreKure team, my question to our general manager Louise, whose vision was to bring preventative lifestyle medicine to the fore, was, “What can I possibly do as an acute care nurse to help?”.  What I now see is, of course I can help. It is us that can make the difference, the nurses and other health care professionals that spend time with our clients. We are trusted. We must take a long hard look at our health system and where we are headed. We must look to what really matters. We must support a preventative sea change.

Over the past year I have been fortunate to work with a group of proactive and dedicated experts with a passion for the benefits of preventive healthcare. I have read and read, I have listened, and listened some more. The combined aspiration of my colleagues and their desire to do more, often despite adversity, is humbling.  It has strengthened my understanding of the need for an open mind, for debate and for humility.

Most importantly of all, through PreKureME I have watched as my loved ones, friends and acquaintances have taken a fresh look at their health habits and made small but consistent changes. Changes that have transformed the way they look, act and feel. I see purpose and I see a fresh outlook. I see the need for a new focus in healthcare.

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