The ideal composition of a healthy community is one that has an overall physical, mental, and social well-being. An example of where this has broken down is in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. Viewers see on television that communities are without power and even access to clean drinking water. This natural disaster has affected every community on every level and they will need months of recovery before achieving a healthy state again. According to the CDC (2014), a strong community is one that establishes and improves both its physical and social environments, helps people support one another in conditions of daily life, and enhances their fullest potential. Some examples of a healthy community include being clean and safe for all citizens. There should be access to food, water, shelter, income, and recreation in the community. Availability to access health care services that are culturally competent is vital. There should be opportunities for a large amount of the population in decision-making and where there is peace, equality, and justice for all. As communities grow, emphasis needs to be on a safe environment where people have breathable air and no toxic exposures. Healthy places have in common the fact that they are designed and built to better the quality of life for all the citizens who live, work, worship, learn, and play within their borders. This also includes low crime rates, excellent schools, a hearty economy, transportation, housing, civic involvement, good weather, recreation, and reasonable taxes. (Maurer & Smith, 2013).
Nurses must first begin by researching and studying the community by reading newspapers and statistical facts. One goal of providing care would be to empower the people, families, organizations in the community, and other healthcare professionals to contribute to creating a healthy community. Often community/public health nurses can offer insight about health care that others may not think is possible. “Nurses can educate and speak about visions of health and specific commitments that can increase the likelihood of particular health possibilities.” (Maurer & Smith, 2013). They have unique commitments to community/public health including:
1. Ensuring an equitable distribution of health care
2. Ensuring a basic standard of living that supports the health and well-being of all persons
3. Ensuring a healthful physical environment (Maurer & Smith, 2013)
No matter the community, the goal of public health is the well-being and health of the entire population which includes formulating goals, care of individuals in nonhospital settings, support of development, promotion of mutual caring, self-responsibility, safety, and reduction of health disparities. (Maurer & Smith, 2013). It is important for nurses to understand that all visions for the community whether it matches expectations or not may take time and they must be patient and persistent with goals to avoid burnout and disconnectedness. Remembering what we are working for in the community helps empower us and make a difference.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014). About healthy places. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/healthyplaces/about.htm
Maurer, F.A. & Smith, C.M. (2013). Community/public health nursing practice (5th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Elseveir Saunders.