Basic nursing care, done well, is complex, isn’t it?

Basic nursing care – what’s in a word?

What does ‘basic’ nursing care mean to you? This perhaps springs to mind aspects of care such as washing, mouthcare, and assistance for eating and drinking amongst other aspects of living that we normally perform for ourselves when well. Such Activities of Daily Living might be regarded as ‘basic’ as they are easy to learn and don’t require a great deal of mental effort to perform. For others, however, the word ‘basic’ is belittling to the art and science of nursing, reducing nursing to little more than the performance of a series of simple tasks. ‘Basic’ seems to involve what to do (e.g. clean mouth) and how  (e.g. brush teeth) to do it, but does not readily seem to encompass when, who, where, how; and perhaps the most important question word – why (e.g. to promote personal comfort, to facilitate meaning as being regarded as a fellow worthy human being, to maintain homeostasis and reduce the risk of nosocomial pneumonia). Just because the care is directed at basic needs, does that make the care basic too?

What’s better than basic? Fundamental? Essential? Something else?

Alternative terminology such as ‘fundamental’ or ‘essential’ nursing care have been proposed, yet ‘basic’ sticks (for example). This is a deceptively complex and controversial topic which deserves a much more thorough and referenced exploration than I will provide here. For now, I wish simply to propose an acronym, and I would like to know your views on it: BASIC.

Basic care, done well, is complex, but is BASIC nonetheless

Best Care ought to be the best possible skilfully performed care that the nurse can deliver (within the limits of experience, ability, time and cost), not a mechanically performed task
Authentic Care ought to be delivered authentically, that is, delivered purposefully with positive intentions by someone who genuinely cares and wants to care
Specific Care ought to be specific, in other words, patient/person-centred, not task/nurse-centred
Informed Care ought to be informed, in other words, evidence-based (remembering that evidence-based practice includes not just best research evidence but the expertise of practitioners and patient preferences)
Compassionate Care ought to be delivered compassionately, such that the patient/person feels cared for

What do you think?

Do you think that ‘re-claiming’ the word BASIC to show that, when done well (in such a way as to best achieve effective care i.e. maximise patient outcomes), basic care is in fact highly skilled with a good deal of mental effort required? Or do you think this would simply perpetuate the notion that a great deal of what a nurse does is low skill, low mental effort? Do you think my suggestion is nothing more than re-inventing the wheel? Whatever your view, basic or complex, I’d love to hear it.

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One thought on “Basic nursing care, done well, is complex, isn’t it?

  1. Pingback: Basic nursing care, done well, is complex, isn’t it? – Nurse Chatter

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