Wherever nurses work, their focus is on the family - its health, its ability to grow, care for itself, and contribute to the community. To emphasise the nurse's role in family health, the ICN has selected Nurses Always There for You: Caring for Familiesas the theme for International Nurses Day (IND), 12 May 2002.
ICN has done considerable work in this area. The Caring for Families document builds on this previous work, which includes several products. In 1994 ICN published the Healthy Families for Healthy Nations kit as part of the year's IND celebrations. The inaugural Virginia Henderson Fellowship in 1999 focused on the family nurse and most recently, ICN published The Family Nurse, a monograph outlining key issues, roles and models in family nursing.
For most of the world's people, health is served by community-based, primary care services, delivered overwhelmingly by nurses. The communities are diverse as are the places where nurses practice. However, the family, in one way or another, is always a principal target for nursing care.
This year's IND theme of Nurses Always There For You: Caring for Families aims to:
- Increase awareness of the nurse's role in family care and family health, including as the primary point of entry into the health care delivery system.
- Encourage nursing involvement in the development and implementation of health and social policies that are 'family-friendly'.
- Draw attention to the importance of the family and the role of family members in their own health individually and as a family unit.
The trust and close relationship that exists between nurses and families means that nurses can be powerful advocates in determining the best public policy for family health. As part of your IND activities, we encourage your association to share your knowledge and experience in caring for families with policy makers, the public and other health professions with a view to encouraging 'family friendly' policies in health care delivery. We look forward to hearing about your subsequent successes.
The health of the family has never been more important in shaping a strong and vibrant society. As nurses help individuals and families to make healthy choices, cope with illness and chronic disability, manage stress and work with them in their homes, schools and workplaces, they are helping to ensure the strength of the most fundamental building block of society.