From a rather general point of view, I’d like to begin this work by giving a brief description based on the aspect of patient assessment. It can be defined as the process which involves gathering information about a patient and it is normally done by the medical staff. The information may include a number of aspects for instance; the sociological, physiological, spiritual and the psychological status of a patient(Stroud, 1963). In this particular case, the discussion shall largely comprise the aspect of assessing a patient’s spiritual and cultural needs.
It is a fact worth noting that we live in a world comprising a diverse people who have varied beliefs as well as other cultural and spiritual practices. It is therefore important for each and every individual in the healthcare fraternity to have the relevant skills of obtaining this information from the people to whom they offer care. Having a full idea of a patient’s spiritual and cultural preferences gives an individual a good ground to offer as complete care as possible.
With the above information in mind, a number of questions are usually incorporated in the assessment tools. This is done in a bid to draw certain details about the cultural and spiritual needs of a patient. For instance some of the interrogatives may be:
- What is your religion/denomination? (spiritual need assessment)
- What is your language of preference?(cultural need assessment)
- What is your place of origin? (cultural need assessment)
- When is your worshipping/holy day(s)? (spiritual need assessment)
- Which ones are some of your main religious and cultural festivals (assesses both aspects.)
- Are there food stuffs that you do not take? Do you do prayer and fasting?
The above listed questions are some of the few ones which can be found common in these assessment tools. As one can notice, a true answer to these questions can go along way in giving a caretaker an idea of how to handle the patient. In my own opinion, I feel the questions help give a wider possibility of obtaining the right information about the patient’s needs hence they are adequate. Perhaps the only requirement may be an occasional and necessary explanation to those who may not be able to understand certain fields within the assessment tools.
This is one vital aspect which is worth noting, i.e. the ability of a practice setting to give the right provisions and skills to nurses in line with patient assessment. The setting has continually been keen to expose the nurses to these guidelines as much as possible. They are usually in written form and contain detailed information regarding strategies of meeting the needs of the patients. The guidelines provided to the nurses equally address the extremes or rather the emergency cases. For instance in a case where a patient refuses a particular medical attention with the reason that it compromises his/her religious and/or cultural beliefs, the guideline provides a multiple alternatives. This way, there is always the conviction that despite the diversity in needs, there is a way through which a patient will be helped at the end of the day.
A number of things can be done by a nurse in order to ensure that the needs of a patient are met at all costs. This may involve varied strategies depending on the content of the guidelines given to the nurses. For instance, in a case where a patient refused to take a particular meal due to the cultural/spiritual inclinations, a nurse had to look for an alternative meal just to ensure that the patient ate and got stronger. In a different example, a patient who refused blood transfusion would be subjected to an alternative therapy by administering other medical cares that would well sort the issue of blood scarcity in the body. For a patient who requested for prayer, a religious leader with whom the patient shared the same spiritual aspects would be contacted to offer the prayer. This could be a family member or a religious leader as requested by the patient. On the other hand, there are some of those requests that could not be granted due to a number of reasons as placed in the guidelines. For instance, a patient who requested to be allowed to fast could not be given that chance especially if the patient was suffering from related problems like ulcers. This request could not be met because it obviously would put the patient into more danger hence do him/her more harm than the much desired good.
There are those cases when the assessment tools are not adequate. At times even the guidelines are never availed to the nurses. In such a case, a nurse can devise a means or means of developing the guidelines that will help address certain situations. This can be done by seeking to know a few more details in connection to the background of a patient. For instance, a patient who has a Christian background has a particular way of doing things; once a nurse has this in mind, it can then be possible to put down the relevant guidelines. Nurses can well come up with the guidelines by interrogating the patient not only with the idea of getting information on what they don’t like but also on what they do. In this approach, it becomes possible for the nurses to a have a variety of alternatives based on the need of every patient. In a nut shell, with many alternatives in the guidelines, there is always a way of helping and hence giving maximum care to a patient.
Stroud, M (1963). Functional assessment in geriatrics: a review of progress and direction. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 37: 267–271.