Mental health articles

OF mental health care and mentally ill

The scope of nursing assessment

We turn now to our vision for nursing assessment within this framework. We advocate the principle of holistic care and have presented a schema that we believe maps, in general terms, all that is the experience of being human. It follows that holistic nursing care, or assessment of the whole person, requires familiarity with, and assessment of, all quadrants in relation to both health and illness. Nurses are in an ideal position to champion this perspective given that they may have contact with service users over extended periods, which in turn provides opportunities to become involved in many areas of a person’s life during different stages of health.

From this position nurses are well placed to provide holistic, integrated care which can be enhanced by enjoining with other workers who possess complimentary specialist knowledge and skills.

Thus, the case for multi- and interdisciplinary assessments in which nurses embrace the contributions of others to develop a holistic understanding of the person and their difficulties. There is much talk of a holistic approach to nursing assessment but in practice there is a tendency for mental health nurses to focus on one side or other of the subjective–objective divide only. Thus, we have the ‘qualitative camp’ (all left-hand quadrants) and the ‘quantitative’ camp (all right-hand quadrants) as described by Burnard and Hannigan and Repper. Neither is wrong, but each provides only a partial perspective, and both are incorrect for what they miss out and, at times, try to deny.

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