Humanized Healthcare

Biographical Sketch
Dr. Siriporn began her nursing career at Bangkok Sanitarium and Hospital and later obtained degrees in nursing education and Educational Administration.  She has held a number of positions, including nursing educator and administrator and most recently President of Mission College (now Asia-Pacific International University), where she continues as President Emeritus. Dr. Siriporn has also published in professional journals and continues as a visiting professor to major universities, and consultant for government agencies in Thailand and abroad. Her dedication to her profession is highly recognised inside and outside Thailand. She has received awards and honours from government and non-government agencies, including Woman of the Year 2002 (Thailand), Award of Excellence in Education 2003 and Woman of the Year, 2005 (USA).

Siriporn Tantipoonwinai, RN, PhD,Asia-Pacific International University, President Emeritus, Thailand

Miraculous changes have taken place in the healthcare industry during recent decades.  With the advance of medical science and technology, the industry has seen the creation of a seemingly miraculous environment.  Whereas a decade or two ago, recovery from many illnesses was unlikely, now many patients can look forward to total recovery or extended life expectancy.  But this technological explosion has changed the heart of healthcare.

The core focus of the health care industry has changed over recent years. In the modern healthcare industry, values and commitments are informed and guided by economics, technology, and medical science. The focus is on beds and disease, the physical body as an object, technology and products. Curing the disease, rather than patient care, has become the focus. This system of fixing people’s bodies has created impersonal relationships;  a functional exchange of fees for goods and services, that require no humanity or human relationships, no authentic caring connection, no mutuality, and no compassionate human science ethic, philosophy, or value that guides the system.

The system has left the consumer (patient and family) in a quagmire of uncertainty. The pace, the demand, the routines, procedures, as well as the implication of the system that is built upon illness-care, all leave the customer meandering through a world of the unknown. Patients feel frustration, dissatisfaction, distrust, and conflict.  This alienation between the care provider (physician, nurse) and the patient is harmful to the patient and practitioner alike and has negative outcomes for the system, including cost.

Healthcare has loss its human touch, connecting the head and the heart, in the services it provides. The spirit of service, love and compassion that once motivated physician has evolved into a professionalism that demands power, status, and appropriate compensation. The basic considerations of what it means to be human, to be vulnerable, to be ill, to be cured, to be cared for, to be healthy, and to be healed has been neglected. The main reason for this conflict and dissonance is a separation of values of human caring as an underlying ethic and a moral foundation for practice. The focus is so much on task and intellect; the profession has forgotten how to connect the head to the heart.

Patients nowadays yearn for humanized healthcare. Since they use the models of business/industry as their systems of operation, they borrow the concept of “quality customer services” to be implemented in the work place with the hope that it will be transformed into humanized healthcare. In reality, the training on the “quality customer service” alone is not sufficient because it only touches the head. We need to touch both the head and the heart for any change to occur.

Changes are necessary in order for renewal and transformation to occur. The will to make the changes necessary for renewal and transformation are dependent on human dimensions and skills, which arise from the human spirit, offering new vision, creativity, and possibilities that result in changing patterns, relationships, and depths of communication and culture. These changes involve worldview shifts that transcend the profession, systems, and institutional structures. Healthcare organizations need to ask themselves the serious question, “Is the purpose of healthcare to fix people or heal people? The answer to this question will lead us to one of the most important components of tomorrow’s sustainable healthcare system --- the body, mind, and spirit of care-giving.

Restoration of the human spirit back into the work place is based on caring-healing values and theoretical, philosophical and moral foundations. This new turn is toward a spiritualizing of human experience and requires a return to wholeness; unity of mind, body and spirit; and acknowledging a oneness between humans and their environment, which affects, and is affected by the human presence, the intentionality, consciousness and practice of the practitioners.

It is the responsibility of healthcare administrators and professionals alike to rethink conventional industrial models and work together for transforming from within. Administrators and professionals can restore the human spirit back into the work place by promoting and demonstrating the following values to their staff and colleagues:
-    TRUST – without trust, it is impossible to maintain a good relationship. Trust is the glue that holds relationships together. 
-    LOVE – is teamwork, love is loyalty; love respects the dignity of the individual.
-    PATIENCE– showing self-control. 
-    KINDNESS – giving attention, appreciation, and encouragement.
-    HUMILITY – being authentic and without arrogance.
-    RESPECT– treating others as important people.
-    FORGIVENESS – giving up resentment when wronged.
-    HONESTY – being truthful and free from deception.
-    COMMITMENT – sticking to your choices. 

The result is SERVICE – it is setting aside your own wants and needs; and seeking the greatest good for others.
When the staff and colleagues have felt the satisfaction of being cared for, being loved and respected and being served, they feel secure and happy and the happiness and sense of caring and service will naturally spill over to other people around them.

This is the transforming from within. It deals with the values, and values cannot be taught. They can only be caught.


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