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Is anticipatory care fundamental to nursing?

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  2. Is anticipatory care fundamental to nursing?
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Recently, a new term has begun to be described in the healthcare literature. That term is ‘anticipatory care’. The principles of anticipatory care are broadly to work with individuals to identify early any circumstances that may have a negative impact on their mental, physical and social health, and to put in place proactive strategies to avert those impacts.

Kennedy et al. (2011) report in this issue of the Journal of Advanced Nursing the interesting findings of a study that explored how community nurses understand the concept of anticipatory care. They found that there are two proactive approaches to anticipatory care. One was focused on management of long-term illness and protocol driven, and the other was synonymous with long-standing nursing activity that focuses on holistic care of the individual. Both approaches involved community nurses working with individuals collaboratively to explore the phenomenon of unreported need. For many nurses, such an anticipatory care approach will be recognized as being fundamental to quality nursing care and has been so since Florence Nightingale carefully articulated the meaning of nursing.

Anticipatory care promotes the importance of functional capacity and recognizes the interrelationship between physical, mental and social causes of health and illness. The principles of anticipatory care recognize that health and social equilibrium can be maintained for extended periods of time and even when disrupted by an exacerbation of illness, can be restored. The functional capacity of the individual is preserved and the environment in which the individual lives is carefully considered in care planning. Anticipatory care purposefully shifts the focus from problem-based care planning to one of building capacity. This is precisely the intention of community-based nursing.

I contend that nurses have driven this ‘anticipatory’ care agenda for more than one hundred years, yet Kennedy et al. (2011) propose that a major barrier to the evaluation of effectiveness of anticipatory care appears to be the invisibility of much of what actually occurs in community nursing practice. This has been a fundamental issue for nursing for as long as the profession has existed. This study suggests that the very ‘safety nets’ which nurses provide individuals in the community remain unarticulated, unsystematic and not valued or recognized. Kennedy et al. (2011) are to be commended for once again bringing the invisibility of nursing work to our attention. Nursing research must continue to expose the importance and depth of nursing, to recognize the contribution nursing makes to health and well-being in both the local and global context and to foster the visibility of the contribution of nursing.

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  2. Is anticipatory care fundamental to nursing?
  3. Reference