When a patient arrives at a care facility, they’re often bringing more problems than just a body in need of some treatment. People have broad and complex needs, both physically and emotionally. These days, many people have spiritual, social, or holistic needs that are unmet. Whole-person care is the idea that all of these needs overlap. It also posits that leaving a problem in one area may drastically affect the rest. Diagnosing just the body isn’t the entire issue anymore once a medical professional adopts a policy of whole-person care.

What is the Focus of Whole-Person Care?

With such a broad topic, it can make sense to have questions about what the focus is of whole-person care. As the name implies, the focus is on the whole person as an individual. It is a patient-oriented use of various healthcare resources to improve the quality of life, not just the quality of health, which respects the choices and desires of the patient and does not suppose upon itself.

Whole-person care comes from the ideas of integrative medicine. Integrative medicine aims to resolve an issue before it leads to dysfunction or disease. While some ideas presented may seem based on emotion, evidence is on the side of an integrative approach. This approach coordinates the well-being of a patient by helping to support their health in four other major areas. Whole-person care is used in Complementary Health Approaches to treatment, and last year over 50% of physicians recommended at least one of these approaches for the treatment of their patients.

What do Whole-Person Care Providers Offer?

Whole-person care providers promote an individual’s well-being by combining traditional assessments with observations about the four major areas of people’s lives. Those four areas include the patient’s mind, spirit, environment, and social health. Both mental sharpness and emotional health are important to the patient’s mind. Spiritual needs are the beliefs, values, or faith-centered principles that sustain and support individuals. Oftentimes, this is an area where nurses can feel deficient, as focusing solely on the material elements of care can leave them with a sense that their care is incomplete. A person’s environment can also drastically impact these four areas as well as overall health. Not having access to nutritious food, clean air, and room to exercise can have a person suffering.

As health suffers, so too does social well-being. Humans are a social species, and whole-person care recognizes this. Because of this approach’s success in improving overall quality of life, 42% of hospitals have begun to integrate whole-person care treatments with their care plans.

Why Is This Important?

Humans are complex creatures that live in very complex societies. Their health can be affected by changes in many areas of their life. Whole-person care both recognizes and addresses this reality while providing complementary solutions to these issues. By providing this additional support, quality of life and health improve, and healthcare costs on state and local institutions decreases and people are better off. In a world that is complex, our medical care should be thorough and not miss an area where a person may be able to improve their situation by having access to some of the tools that hospitals and caregivers can provide.