What Is Holistic Nursing Care?

by | Sep 28, 2021 | Patient Care | 1 comment

The health care industry is undergoing widespread change driven by the demands and effects of COVID-19, which has led to a nationwide nursing shortage. In response, hospitals are hiring more nurses from abroad to meet their new staffing needs.

The recent demand for healthcare services caused by the national nursing shortage and increased need due to COVID 19 have made it necessary for many American facilities to hire foreign nurses who can help fill this gap. A fitting solution to this epidemic is the adoption of holistic health care programs.

Holistic health care is a growing trend in the medical industry, especially within hospital settings. This alternative treatment method focuses on the healthcare and well-being of all body systems rather than only one or two specific symptoms or ailments. But what is holistic nursing care?

What Is Holistic Nursing Care

Practitioners often believe that holistic medicine relies heavily on preventative measures, such as diet and exercise, and it also supports slowing down life’s pace for patients to achieve emotional balance. Holistic health care involves treating every part of the patient’s being physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual with equal importance without focusing too much on just one aspect alone.

What is Holistic Nursing Care

Holistic Nursing is the art of nursing defined by Florence Nightingale, who founded this type of care. Holism in general has been described as a way that focuses on unity and wellness, emphasizing how humans are connected to their environment.

The American Holistic Nurses Association defines it similarly: “all nursing practice which seeks to heal at every level- physical, emotional, social – for all persons.” Holistic nursing is the integration of self-care, spirituality, and reflection in one’s life. It leads to greater awareness about how interconnected our lives are with others as well as nature itself.

What Is a Holistic Nurse

Holistic nurses are a type of nurses who possesses knowledge, theories, and expertise that can help people in more ways than one. They use their intuition to care for patients by recognizing the “whole” person instead of treating an injury or illness like traditional doctors do.

Holistic nursing is not currently recognized as its specialty but it will be soon enough. Holistic nurses believe they have a duty to heal and help achieve fulfillment through caring practices such as promoting health awareness or providing support during hospitalizations. In addition, they try to satisfy all the needs of their patients, extending beyond simply physical treatment.

To achieve this goal holistic nurses follow a new philosophy that includes alternative and complementary forms of medicine in their practice. Many professional holistic nurses widely use alternative therapies, including those who use massage therapy, have a background in homeopathic or herbal medicine, and may also incorporate energy healing into treating patients.

Holistic nursing schools usually provide students with skills training that is essential for them as future practitioners. Many even offer the chance for students to earn a doctorate to do more research on the subject at hand. This healthcare field can be seen as an extension of other methods such as traditional western medicine that are already practiced within hospitals today.

However, many health care facilities today are going beyond providing western medicine and have started to provide more holistic solutions. It can be seen as a way of thinking and approaching the practice of nursing in general by encouraging individuals to feel they have more control over their bodies and health.

Therefore, holistic nurses take charge of meeting patients’ physical, psychological and social needs while also promoting self-care activities within patients to help them prevent illness or disease from happening again.

Importance of Holistic Nursing Care

Many doctors and other health practitioners still doubt the effectiveness of holistic care. They argue that this system of medicine is only good for treating minor ailments, such as headaches, sprains, or colds. Nobody can deny the positive effects of holistic methods; however, several benefits will arise if more traditional medical practices include holistic ideas.

Holistic care emphasizes prevention rather than treatment and could greatly reduce costs for both the patient and insurer. For example, many people with chronic illnesses rely on insurance to pay for monthly medication, while others have to take time off work due to a physical ailment they may suffer from.

By promoting preventive measures, insurers could help lower healthcare costs, benefit everyone involved, including patients, hospitals, and doctors. In addition, more and more clinics are providing the option for patients to seek alternative methods if they wish, which further supports holistic care.

Unfortunately, patients who choose to use complementary medicines usually pay out-of-pocket, which only makes their situation worse when they can no longer afford or have insurance for treatment.

According to some hospitals and clinics, one of these reasons is that doctors haven’t been trained properly to provide holistic medicine or because it’s cheaper for them to prescribe medications than spend time with a patient trying to find answers and ways to solve chronic pain issues.

But then again, many people also don’t know much about natural forms of treatment either, so perhaps education is needed on both sides before this practice can take off.

Care Provided by Holistic Nurses

To provide holistic care, nurses must first understand their state of health and that of others. They need to have a basic knowledge about many different diseases, treatments for them, and how they can be prevented or avoided through healthy living practices.

Holistic nurses treat the person as a whole rather than just focusing on one specific part such as physical therapy or medication to restore a patient’s health. By providing patients with an individualized treatment plan holistic nursing allows patients who suffer from chronic illnesses and other major ailments the chance to regain control over every aspect of their lives including diet, exercise, rest, and stress management.

With this practice, they will eventually become healthier and be able to lead a more productive life. To diagnose a patient holistically, nurses usually first consider the social, psychological, and physical needs of them and any cultural differences, personal beliefs, or religious background. All these factors can greatly influence how they feel about their bodies.

Today, there are many different methods used by holistic nurses that focus on treating problems within all areas of an individuals’ life including nutrition, exercise, relaxation techniques, and nature-based therapies such as aromatherapy and reflexology.

Common Holistic Care Therapies

The following are some of the most common therapies used by holistic nurses.

Nutrition: Taking into consideration a patient’s eating habits, nutritional intake, and any pre-existing food allergies that may trigger certain health problems is an important component of holistic care. Nurses can also provide nutritional counseling on what foods will boost the immune system to help prevent future illnesses or diseases.

Exercise: Regular exercise improves a person’s overall physical condition and helps increase their energy levels and relieves stress. Because of these benefits doctors often recommend patients with chronic illnesses seek out alternative methods such as Yoga, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, and Pilates which have been known to produce similar results on patients without expensive equipment or machines.

Relaxation Techniques: Holistic nurses can help patients learn how to relax by providing information about different relaxation techniques such as visualization, meditation, and deep breathing.

Nature-Based Therapies: People have been practicing nature-based therapies for centuries. Now science has proven that many of these traditional remedies are effective forms of treatment when used regularly. Nature-based techniques focus on using plants, flowers, or scents to promote healing and renew an individual’s energy levels.

Some common therapies include aromatherapy which is the science of using natural aromatic plant materials to affect one’s senses; applying massage oil from plants including lavender, chamomile, or eucalyptus; reflexology which is massaging areas on the soles of the feet or hands that correspond to different areas of the body including organs; and using flower water as a tonic to help improve skin complexion.

The Principles of Holistic Care

The following are some of the fundamentals of holistic nursing care.

Prevention: The first step in each patient’s treatment plan should always be to prevent any underlying illnesses or conditions from occurring in the future. It can be accomplished by providing them with a healthy lifestyle that includes proper diet, exercise, and stress management techniques. 

Many people feel overwhelmed by their bodies because they do not understand how they work or what goes into maintaining a healthy body daily, so prevention strategies are important in helping patients cope with these feelings. 

Reversing Illness: When an individual becomes ill the main goal of holistic nursing is to identify all possible contributing factors including poor eating habits, lack of nutrition, and other unhealthy practices. Such as smoking, drinking, and using drugs which can greatly affect a person’s overall well-being. 

When all possible causes have been discovered, patients are then introduced to a series of therapies that include nutrition, exercise, relaxation techniques, and possibly even alternative methods. Such as herbal remedies and acupuncture, which will help strengthen the body to fight any future illnesses or diseases.

Stress Management: A patient’s mental health plays an instrumental role in physically feeling about themselves. If their mind is worried about concealing their illness from family members or friends it can greatly affect how they eat, sleep and interact with others. 

As many holistic nurses have learned by providing stress reduction therapy techniques, helps improve a patient’s overall quality of life, whether physical or psychological. Acupuncture is one such technique known to help patients cope with chronic pain, depression, and anxiety by boosting their endorphins and relieving them of symptoms that often serve as triggers for stress-related illnesses.

The Beauty of Holistic Medicine

Natural remedies have been used for centuries; however, it wasn’t until recently that modern-day science has begun proving these methods do work if used regularly. In the distant past, alternative therapies were commonly viewed as placebos or old wives’ tales that were used for relaxation only and rarely ever to treat a specific ailment.

Fortunately, these misconceptions have long since been cleared up by individuals in the medical community; however many people are still held back by fears that treatments such as acupuncture will cause them to harm rather than improve their physical health.

The Benefits of Holistic Care

Healing oneself physically, mentally, and emotionally is a difficult task for any individual to accomplish. However, when they are provided with the right tools such as nutrition, exercise, rest, and general relaxation, many people can overcome serious illnesses or conditions that were once thought to be inoperable.

The holistic care philosophy gives patients a fighting chance at overcoming their condition by providing them with alternative treatment options that will provide relief from symptoms and cure their illness altogether, unlike traditional medicine, which merely masks the problem and delays signs and symptoms from returning indefinitely.

Ending Thoughts

Over the past several years, holistic medicine has become increasingly popular among Western countries. However, people in the medical community have learned that individuals from other cultures have known for many generations that a healthy body comes from proper diet and exercise and a happy mind free of stress, anxiety, and fear.

A true healer helps others heal themselves by providing them with tools that improve their quality of life both physically and mentally.

More Resources

Picture of Kati Kleber, founder of FRESHRN

Hi, I’m Kati.

Kati Kleber, MSN RN is a nurse educator, author, national speaker, host of the FreshRN® Podcast, and owner of FreshRN® – an online platform created to educate, encourage, and motivate newly licensed nurses in innovative ways.

Connect with her on YouTube, Pinterest, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook, and sign-up for her free email newsletter for new nurses.

1 Comment

  1. Nick Angelis

    Good summary, Kati! I like to think of the term “holistic” as a wider view for possible treatment options, whether they come from pharmaceutical double-blind research studies or some simple healthy living tips.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.