By Sally Murtagh, MD Irish HomeCare
To mark International Women’s Day, I thought it would be a good idea to reflect on the work we do. While caring is not an all-female occupation, it is carried out predominantly by women; and the standards we observe in our work were developed by a woman.
Florence Nightingale, the mother of modern nursing, took control of caring from the male-dominated medical profession of the Nineteenth Century by developing what is known as Environment Theory.
Caring, she said, is “the activities that promote health which occur in any caregiving situation.”
She developed her thinking while treating injured soldiers during the Crimean War, where she identified a link between treatment outcomes and the environmental conditions of care.
The theory she developed is now the bedrock of nursing and caring today. Environment Theory is based on ten principles, among which are that caring is a calling distinct from medicine. She recognised that factors such as environmental and personal hygiene, availability of fresh air, healthy food and natural light affected patient well-being.
Florence also emphasised the importance of the patient-carer relationships, arguing that approaches should be adapted to individual needs; and that compassion and hope were essential to living with, or recovering from, any condition.
Today, our carers live by these principles bringing professionalism, companionship and compassion to all our clients. These values are displayed every day by men and women alike but it took a woman to recognise their importance.
On this International Woman’s Day, more power to you.