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PA30 Why specialist community public health nurses should work in end of life care
  1. Sandy Knowles
  1. St Luke’s Hospice-Plymouth, UK

Abstract

Background Overview of roots of public health nursing in UK. Specialist Community Public Health Nurses, formerly known as Health Visitors, have been responding to key health priorities in the United Kingdom for the past 150 years. The profession emerged in response to the appalling poverty and high infant mortality rates which characterised nineteenth century Victorian slums, and transformed itself in the twentieth century to provide family welfare “from the cradle to the grave”, including social and mental health. Acheson’s 1998 definition of public health as “the organised application of resources to achieve the greatest health for the greatest number”, dominated practice and preceded The New NHS: Modern and Dependable (1997) which put public health at the top of the agenda. The new approach meant crossing traditional boundaries and putting the ‘community’ at the centre of healthcare through empowerment. Throughout these changes, the underpinning principles have remained the same, including the search for health needs, stimulation of awareness of health needs, influence on policies affecting health and facilitation of health-enhancing activities.

Aim To learn from other public health professionals.

Method Literature review. Specialist Community Public Health Nurses with an interest and experience in end of life care, can apply these same principles to the new public health approach to death and dying, searching for death and dying needs whilst stimulating an awareness. This would lead to exerting influence on policies affecting death and dying and facilitating health-enhancing activities. The public health approach is new to palliative and end of life care so it makes sense to learn from those professionals who have a long history of successfully responding, adapting to change, rising to contemporary challenges and harnessing opportunities.

Results Understanding of how and when the public health agenda emerged.

Conclusion Other professionals have skills we need.

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