Strengths-Based Nursing and Healthcare

Discover SBNH

Strengths-Based Nursing and Healthcare (SBNH) is both a philosophy and a value-driven approach to guide clinicians, leaders, and educators. SBNH aims to transform the healthcare system by humanizing healthcare through knowledgeable and compassionate care.

From Deficits to Strengths

In our fragmented and depersonalized health care system, deficit-based care has become the norm. Deficit-based care focuses on the dysfunctional – what needs fixing. It’s a limited and limiting approach that can cause healthcare practitioners to view patients as cases, not as people possessing unique assets and capabilities. In a deficit-based care system, patients and their families are vastly undervalued resources.

Strengths-Based Nursing and Healthcare is an alternative approach to care that shifts the conversation from “What’s wrong?” to “What’s right?”

It is an idea whose time has come. Individuals are now expected to become active partners in managing their own health and dealing with the health issues that arise within their families. They are more likely to rise to the challenge when they have confidence in their abilities to draw on and develop the strengths that will help them cope with the situation they are facing. Nurses and healthcare workers who take a strengths-based approach to care are forging collaborative, empowering partnerships with patients and their loved ones – and at the same time, they empower themselves.

A Holistic Approach to Care

Strengths-Based Nursing and Healthcare (SBNH) recognizes the urgent need for a more holistic approach to care. SBNH focuses on understanding a patient’s deficits and problems within the broader context of the unique strengths that everyone possesses – and these include the strengths of those nearest and dearest to the patient. The strengths-based approach is about recognizing, mobilizing, capitalizing on and developing a person’s strengths to promote health and facilitate healing. It is a means of empowering not only patients and their families, but also clinicians, practitioners, leaders, and managers.

SBNH restores the centrality of relational care, creates opportunities for empowerment and taps into underutilized human capacities for meeting illness challenges. In short, SBNH has the potential to transform a depersonalized and fragmented health care system into a personal and collaborative model that fosters opportunities for self-healing, engenders hope, and enables patients to draw upon their strengths even in the most difficult circumstances.

4 Foundational Pillars

SBNH's underlying foundations are:

  • Person-Centred 
  • Empowerment 
  • Relational
  • Innate Capacities 

These foundational pillars are operationalized by eight core values.

The 8 Values of SBNH

SBNH is a value-driven approach with eight core values:

  1. Health & Healing
    SBNH reaffirms that health and healing are the central goals of nursing. Health supports the patient’s ability to adapt to life’s challenges and live with purpose and meaning.
  2. Uniqueness
    SBNH recognizes that no two people are alike, and they experience and respond to their environments in unique ways. When nurses understand their patients as individuals, they are better able to work with them to find effective solutions to problems.
  3. Holism & Embodiment
    Holism recognizes the interconnectedness of the parts as they affect each other and the functioning of the whole person.
  4. Subjective Reality & Created Meaning
    We all construct narratives that are woven together from facts, past and current experiences, perceptions, and beliefs. These narratives guide people’s understanding of events (their “reality”) and affect their responses. SBNH-trained nurses strive to gain insight into patients’ constructed narratives and use this information to help them cope with the health challenges they face.
  5. Self-Determination
    SBNH sees the nurse’s role not as deciding for others but rather as listening attentively and deeply in order to clarify, elaborate, explain, provide information and suggestions, connect people with resources, and advocate for patients and families in ways that enable them to ‘hear’ their own voices and make those voices heard.
  6. Person-Environment are Integral
    People grow and thrive in environments that enable them to draw on their strengths and provide themselves with opportunities for development and healing.
  7. Learning, Readiness, & Timing
    Readiness to engage in a new activity is a prerequisite for learning. Nurses must be attuned to patients and their families to know when they will be receptive to learning a new skill or developing a strength.
  8. Collaborative Partnership
    The nurse-patient relationship is collaborative. The nurse has formal and practical knowledge of health and healing, and the patient and family have knowledge of themselves and their circumstances. Collaborative partnerships require the partners to find common ground, set goals jointly, and determine a course of action that’s right for the patient.
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