The COVID-19 pandemic profoundly affected life across the world; economic shutdown, isolation, and contact restrictions completely changed the psychosocial environment of affected countries.
Even worse, it has increased the health inequities of vulnerable populations. This has demonstrated that when these vulnerable populations are at risk, we are all at heightened risk.
Nurses are an essential workforce group who use their skill sets and expertise in everyday clinical practice to advocate, promote, and protect patients under their care. That has proved more so during the challenging COVID-19 period. The nursing workforce has gone out of its way to make substantial contributions during the current public health emergency, exposing them to unprecedented stress and anxiety.
To cope with future potential outbreaks, nurses need knowledge and skills among other aspects. To achieve these, education is paramount; you can access Wilkes university admissions email to get started with your nursing career. This will place you in a better position to advocate on behalf of the vulnerable groups and meet their needs to reduce inequity in health protection, cultural sensitivity, and access to healthcare.
How nurses can help address inequality issues
Nurses can prioritize the unique needs of vulnerable populations to combat COVID-19 and its related issues. These include low-income families, older adults, people in communal or substandard living conditions as well as those with developmental disabilities. These populations are at high risk for COVID-19-related poor outcomes.
To address these issues, the following strategies can be employed:
- Use of telehealth services – nurses can introduce telepsychology services to their new and existing patients. Telehealth services can also be used by school and pediatric nurses to conduct online training on how parents can support their children in a crisis.
- Giving priority to low-income earners – Low-income families and workers are more likely to encounter psychosocial stressors such as homelessness and hunger, poor sanitation, crowded and unsafe living conditions, as well as inadequate social supports or safety nets. As such health services need to be focused more on low-income workers and their families.
- Advocating for people in communal or substandard living conditions – People who are incarcerated, homeless, in nursing homes, in detention centers, or living in crowded conditions are at a high risk of contracting COVID-19 due to lack of medical equipment or basic amenities. To help maintain social distancing or preventative hygiene, measures such as reducing overcrowding, facilitating hand-washing hygiene, and screening for possible symptoms of the disease should be observed.
Being the biggest challenge the health care sector has faced in living memory, nurses should derive essential lessons from the COVID-19 experience; whether from the shortcomings brought sharply into focus, the extraordinary contributions of millions of staff and volunteers, the rapid progress achieved in transforming and digitizing service delivery, there is an imperative to restore the provision of healthcare services.
The inequitable coronavirus response is clear. To reduce inequities instead of exacerbating them, COVID-19 mitigation strategies must include vulnerable groups. As advocates, nurses play a crucial role in this process. As such, investments to enhance the skill sets and knowledge of nurses should be prioritized; this will present positive outcomes now, and will also secure preparedness for future outbreaks. Efforts must be made to ensure that lessons are learned, and COVID-19 does not become a fading memory.