Our responsibility as health care workers is not only to do things to help people overcome an illness or disability, or even to support a pregnant woman through to the delivery of a healthy baby (and mum).
We also have a responsibility to everyone in our care to support them to adopt lifestyles that will promote their health and help them avoid health problems in future. This aspect of our roles – promoting health – is now considered central to health care.
There are no special times for promoting health. Instead, we should try to see every occasion we are with a patient/client and their family as an opportunity to spread positive messages about health, helping people to understand the small changes they can make in their lives that will bring benefits.
That doesn’t mean we give a lecture on healthy lifestyle every time we’re with a patient/client – he or she would rightly turn off if we tried!
Health promotion isn’t about lecturing or hectoring, or about pushing people into making huge changes in their lives. It’s about working with individuals in partnership towards making agreed changes, and taking things one small step at a time.
So don’t feel that unless you help someone to make a dramatic change in their lifestyle that you’re not performing your health promotion role properly. Remember that it’s the person’s health, the person’s life, and the person’s choice – he or she is in charge. Your job is to help them see the options available and the relative benefits of taking one course of action against another. Achieve that, and you’ll have achieved something very worthwhile.