Nurses know changes are needed. Hospitals across the country are at overcapacity. A generally accepted standard of safe hospital occupancy is 85 per cent, yet most hospitals are working at a 100 per cent or higher. The results of overcrowding include compromised care, high rates of hospital-acquired infections and unnecessary rates of hospital readmission. Another result is dangerous levels of workload, and the resulting vicious circle of working short staffed.
The sheer pressure being placed on our national healthcare silos (because there is no system, not nationally, not provincially) is unsustainable. The people delivering our health services are cracking at the seams, but the burden just keeps growing. Plus, the cost keeps rising, too. Something has to give.
When you need to deliver more, but can't afford more, you need a third way. You need structural change. The question we need to ask ourselves is, why is there such high demand? What can we do to reduce demand rather than attempt impossible service increases?
If you want to find ways to keep people out the healthcare system, you have to do two things - give them more knowledge and access on the front end (education, health promotion) and reduce the factors that aggrieve illness in the first place.
How do you do that? We've looked at obesity and smoking, promoted healthy eating and exercise. There's decent health and safety standards in place, some going to far as to impede people from developing resistance and resiliency.
Everyone's acknowledged there is a global mental health crisis that impacts poverty, quality of life and illness - all of which increase the burden on our healthcare system. There is an appreciation of how "management styles" and work flow can exacerbate or even cause illnesses like anxiety and depression (if it frustrates you that I call those illnesses, ask yourself, why?) Now, we need to connect the dots between mental health, occupational health and health care. It's a pretty easy link to make; it's the implications that give us pause.
There's an appetite for changing the way we look at mental health, work and healthcare - there's also a dire need. The politicians who seize on this topic and run with it can not only score major social wins; they can achieve some major political wins, too.
We're going to be hearing a lot more about cognitive labour as the engine that fuels the information economy. It's something the smart business and political folk are already becoming conscious of.