Is there anyone out there who has been asleep or otherwise out of touch with reality as we know it for the last year or two and doesn’t know that the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is committed to growing a “culture of health” in the US. Their ideas are sound and they have the money to make a difference, as evidenced by the impact that is just now showing up from their work over the last decade to “end childhood obesity”. So I think we all need to get behind this in our own way.
So what can we do? First, we can acknowledge that nurses have supported the WHO definition of health advocated by RWJF for a long time. Okay, I have said that and can now move on! Now that we have a major player like RWJF putting all their money and power behind it, we should all get on the bandwagon. So what are some specifics we can each do to support a culture of health?
We can keep doing what we do in supporting our patient’s health as physical, mental and social well-being. And as a part of our support of patients’ wellbeing, we can measure the impact of what we do, thereby, demonstrating that our interventions do make a difference.
Next, we can advocate for our patients, often people with limited voice, the most vulnerable children, elders, poor, and marginalized. We have to be their voice and advocate for their right to physical, mental and social well-being. And when we advocate, we need to use hard data about why this is important. In other words, don’t tell me or anyone else how needy these poor people are…this is a world that values the bottom line, so start talking about the financial benefits of a healthy population, e.g. lower health care cost, improved education which results in people with better jobs who pay more taxes, and so on.
Finally, we need to remember to be good stewards of our personal well-being, by taking care of ourselves and our colleagues. We must be role models of a well and balanced lifestyle. Consider going to www.thepatientpromise.org and signing on to commit to “lead by example” by practicing the healthy lifestyle behaviors we ask of our patients. And then, after you have signed the promise, go take a nice walk.