Introduction: Like what the age-old adage from Desiderius Erasmus states “prevention is better than cure”, population health is the approach that looks at the broader picture of developing and maintaining a realistic and culturally acceptable health plan for the Australian Aboriginal communities. Rather than merely addressing the management of diseases, population health goes deeper by aiming to manage the factors that may have caused or developed the diseases, and ensure that the World Health Organization’s (cited in Queensland Health 2012, p. 1) definition of health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing” is achieved holistically. Therefore, more than just preventing diseases from recurring and spreading in the communities involved, the social, cultural and economic factors that have contributed or may contribute to future health problems in a community must be properly addressed, and thereby introducing a new specialization nursing that will provide nursing care in partnership with the concerned community group (Queensland Health, 2009) like the Aborigines and the Torres Strait Islanders. This growing specialization is called community health nursing. Community health nursing is crucial in ensuring that the correct approaches to the Aborigines’ and Torres Strait islanders’ community health, are applied and are popularly supported by the concerned indigenous groups. It is important that the community health nurses are equipped and oriented to their broader roles and responsibilities which include patient education, individual and family advocacy, case management and interdisciplinary approach (Van Loon 2008, pp. 315 - 330). Obviously, these skills are addressed minimally, or are not totally addressed in the present nursing education system. And government and community support is needed to ensure that future community health nurses acquire the skills or competencies of clinical knowledge and practice, but also that of community leadership and management. With this in place, the aboriginal communities themselves will be active participants in health policy-making and implementation as well. Therefore, government and non-government agencies should give appropriate attention and support to these shifts and expansions of roles of community health nurses, and make health population a priority strategy in alleviating the health problems of Australia’s marginalized groups. This is critical because the success of this strategy could become the blueprint for managing the health issues and problems concerning the other marginalized sectors.
Community Health Nursing: Community health nursing is a nursing practice specialty primarily focused on families, and defined community groups, aimed at providing them the proper nursing care based on evidences based on community immersions involving the participation of the community concerned. In the process, the corresponding community values needs to be appreciated and analysed to avoid deprivation of their rights or curtailing their freedom of choice as to the more effective nursing care approach and program based on their observations and experiences. As compared to a community nurse who works in a community setting to manage specific diseases and provide public health care as a matter of health promotion, community health nursing goes beyond the traditional goal of understanding the particular health problem and the methods of preventing and controlling within the community setting (Van Loon 2008, pp. 315 - 316). Community nursing focuses on population health by analysing the existing community health program and its effectiveness based on the different determinants of health namely socio-economic, political and environmental. Community health nurses therefore need to be highly skilled not only in the clinical practice or technical knowledge of identifying and controlling the health problems, but also in developing a community-based and population focused...
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