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 enlarges the conversation from “What’s wrong?” to include “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
    Health is about wholeness whereas healing is about restoring wholeness. Health involves developing the strengths required for rallying, growing, and thriving. Healing is about repairing and renewing to optimize functioning and achieve wholeness.
  2. Uniqueness
    Each person/family/community and health/illness event are different. Uncovering and discovering strengths are key to developing responsive, compassionate, effective, and personalized care.
  3. Holism & Embodiment
    Holism means that all aspects of a person (i.e., body, mind, soul); of a system (i.e., micro, meso, macro); of an issue or concern (i.e., illness/disorder, trauma, injury) are interconnected and interrelated. Embodiment means that people experience the world through their body and react viscerally to experiences.
  4. Subjective Reality & Created Meaning
    Humans make meaning of their experiences through narratives and stories. Their personal understandings and interpretations of their experiences often affect their reactions and responses.
  5. Self-Determination
    Self-determination is about taking charge, making choices, and feeling in control. Healthcare providers create conditions for individuals/families/communities to connect with their inner power and find their voice by providing them with information and tools to make informed decisions related to their healthcare needs and goals.
  6. Person-Environment are Integral
    People shape and are shaped by their physical surroundings, their relationships, interactions with others, and by the cultural, economic, and political ecosystems in which they reside. People grow and thrive in environments where there is a goodness-of-fit between the demands of their environment and their values, needs, capacities, goals, and strengths.
  7. Learning, Readiness, & Timing
    Learning occurs at all levels (ex. cellular, personal, societal). Learning involves change and growth that involves acquiring knowledge and skills. People learn best when they feel ready for change and the timing is right.
  8. Collaborative Partnership
    Collaborative partnerships allow everyone to bring their unique expertise and strengths to the relationship. In collaborative partnerships, power is shared. Healthcare professionals partner with persons/families/communities to set goals jointly and determine courses of actions.
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